Please turn on Javascript first.

Lately I have come across the acronym VUCA quite a lot. Have you? It’s usually dropped in the context of management and leadership discussions and the qualities evolving in those areas. Basically VUCA is short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – all words that sound rather uncomfortable. Well, that’s basically the point.

Preparing Your Mind

The general point of VUCA is to emphasize the constantly changing conditions under which decisions need to be taken today and how to deal with this constant change. It seems to be nearly impossible to actually establish routines and standardized counter-measures for constant change but actually it’s quite doable with the right mindset, and this is what VUCA is meant to express. Mainly the parameters for VUCA are information and predictability.


Volatile situations seem to arise a lot in Life Sciences, since price erodation is a constant topic, fast market entries and new technologies frequently enter the game. In volatile situations, you must be able to shift direction from one path to another. This can be achieved with strategic partnerships for example, another topic very relevant to the Life Sciences sector.


Here leadership is required to gather enough information and provide flexible resources. The key is a clear vision and constant reference where intuition and empathy are critical aspects of leadership in uncertain times. You must have sustainable and flexible teams – uncertainty can only be conquered with information. Invest in that!


Complexity is not really that uncertain, but needs to be structured and processed in an effective way. This is not achieved as a complete task, but requires constant agile responses to evolving outcomes of complex interconnections. A strong leader needs to provide the right dose of delegation, acquiring well-rounded specialists to react proactively to changes and yield results.


Who is responsible for what and why? Ambiguity arises when you have little information about unpredictable situations. Sounds like you can only lose this one? Ambiguity gives you room to experiment and test new ideas, and learn from the results. This is all about transparency and communication. In reality, ambiguity can be quite fun. Multiple meanings, misunderstanding and conflicts of interest can be seen as multiple potentials, reinterpretation and common interests.

You just need to VUCA to get there. 😉

This article originally appeared on “Industry In Motion“.

By Stephan B. Breitfeld
IIC Partners