Is in the VUCA world place for continuous improvement and lean?

VUCA – extremely trendy and loudly commented in recent years wording that defines today’s reality.

But what is it?

The abbreviation was created from: variability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.


VUCA’s roots are derived from military terminology – in this way, American soldiers defined / define the situation on the battlefield, in the heat of battle, in the absence of peace and security. Variability, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (or ambiguity), all reflect the realities of the state of war.

As in many other cases, the military wording was very well integrated into the business environment. We can say that it permanently entered our dictionaries.



What do we mean by the concept of VUCA?


Some say instead: “The world is crazy!” – We live in the World of VUCA! In an environment of huge variability, in which today’s knowledge may turn out to be out of date tomorrow. Where it is difficult to separate information noise from important signals, and causal relations are ambiguous, without clear conditions.

As Małgorzata Majcherczyk of the House of skills writes: “The real essence of the VUCA environment is not only that surprising situations arise, but above all that we are not able to predict what effects they will have.” This is unpredictability. “

The most difficult one in the world of VUCA is the lack of control. And it is a certain level of control over the situation, predictability and trends that have so far been the basis of market operation.

In the light of the above information, do you not feel that these realities of the “outside world” are becoming more and more part of our organizations, their actions and problems?



VUCA vs. new management models in organizations


Observing the natural world, we can risk the statement that the most lasting relationships and the greatest effectiveness in the struggle for survival are shown by teams, large clusters, schools – such systems in which there is no clear leader, leader.

It is true that the leader can emerge spontaneously, depending on the situation in which the group will be found, but not on the basis of choice. Under different circumstances, leaders may be different, somehow interchangeable, and it does not determine internal relationships.

Would such a management model, without a clearly defined structure and hierarchy, prove itself in our organizations? Distributed management model, where leaders assume roles and tasks depending on current market needs and requirements.

I do not know – it’s possible. It is certain that modern organizations have to show a number of new characteristics and behaviors.



Confidence, mutual respect, tolerance for diversity, experimentation and the possibility of making mistakes are, according to K. Walecka – Jankowska, key factors that enterprises should demonstrate in the current reality in order to maintain their competitiveness on the market.

And here is the space for lean, huge potential for continuous improvement, which should be used in the widest possible aspect. Also because it provides the opportunity for continuous learning and raising standards, which supports the creativity and commitment of employees.



LEAN in the VUCA world



I think that a perfect example to explain how leaning with the realities of modern business will be the proposal to change the words behind VUCA, which was proposed by Bob Johansen.

According to Johansen, author of the book “Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World”, VUCA can be understood as:







And are not these lean attributes?

Organizations that have a vision (and mission) of action can survive all kinds of turbulence and uncertainties that flow from the outside world.

Communication skills and understanding of constantly changing reality, which go beyond the standard framework of individual business areas, foster the implementation of the company’s plans and assumptions.

For this to work, everyone needs to know what the goal is and what needs to be done. Therefore, transparency of management processes, tasks and indicators on the basis of which the right decisions will be taken is necessary.


And finally agility. For the organization, it means nothing more than the ability to quickly adapt and implement changes that will adapt to the chaotically changing environment.

The lean approach has never been as versatile and comprehensive to me as it was in the light of the VUCA reality.

It allows you to build a strategy and action plan that are based on sound standards and systematic work at the foundation.

Work in the PDCA cycle (or, as some people prefer – DMAIC) ensures continuous pursuit of a better, newer, more current one. It also stimulates creativity, creative thinking and just curiosity, how to work more effectively to achieve the assumed goal.

A number of tools and methods ensure transparency of processes and indicators, so desirable in the VUCA world.





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