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How to survive in the VUCA world

2013

Do challenges and opportunities that used to take months to mature now suddenly strike you without warning? If so, you're not alone. What you are experiencing is the VUCA world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

In a recent study at Roland Berger, we looked at how fifty firms from a range of industries and with different maturity levels are adapting to the new VUCA world. Some stood out as clear "meta-winners" – firms so singular that they are game-changers in their industry and in some cases have even created a whole new industry segment. Many of these meta-winners were born into a world where VUCA was already the norm. A few of them are known around the world, including Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Others are primarily known in their home markets, such as the French telecom company Free and the US provider of on-demand Internet streaming content Netflix, or their home continent, such as the Spanish fashion retailer Zara, part of the Inditex Group. Asia also has its meta-winners, such as the Chinese Alibaba Group and South Korea's Samsung.

Our investigation revealed seven key principles used by meta-winners to survive the VUCA world. Together, these principles form what we call the "Light Footprint" approach, in reference to a striking example of adaptation to the VUCA world: the strategy implemented by the United States military during the Obama administration in reaction to the transformation of warfare.

Podcast

Listen to Christophe Angoulvant talking about how firms are adapting to the VUCA world on management radio.  

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