I was introduced to the acronym VUCA in the early 2000s while writing my first book Perfect Labor Storm. After the convergence and accumulation of events that disrupted our lives in the past 18 months, I can’t think of a more fitting description than VUCA - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous. VUCA was the subject of more than a dozen articles I published and the underpinning of much of my work for nearly two decades. When I took the TEDx stage in 2016, my idea worth sharing was “Make Change Work for You.” There’s only so much you can cover in 18 minutes (and my talk clocked in at under 14 minutes) and so VUCA inspired my last book Recruiting in the Age of Googlization.
Unfortunately concepts like exponential change, complexity, VUCA, and Googlization are too abstract to be meaningful for the average person unless their life is personally disrupted by them. Up until 2020, few people seemed to take seriously the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of accelerating change. Surely us humans have survived worse, bounced back, and lived to tell another story.
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to make VUCA personal and break our human addiction to certainty. When the lines between science fiction and reality blur for billions of people, making change work becomes more than an idea worth sharing but a catastrophic problem in search of a solution. Stimulus checks and vaccinations are merely lifeboats to rescue people thrown overboard into the sea of exponential change.
Much like Simone Biles during the 2020 Olympics, we all experienced a frightening and dangerous episode of the “twisties” in 2020 - we lost our orientation with what we perceived as normal. Millions of people continue to be suspended in a state of the twisties, unsure and often incapable of landing safely. Alvin Toffler described this 50 years ago in his book “Future Shock” - a condition that leaves people disconnected and suffering from "shattering stress and disorientation.”
Similar to the situation prescribed by the quote “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” I was ready in 2020 when AQai crossed my path. It presented a personal and organizational blueprint for making change work. But beyond the AQ model, it offered an assessment which fit my business model perfectly. It closed the void in my business between talking about VUCA as a frightening future and exposing new opportunities, and the hope and courage to grow and thrive.
My personal AQ journey has been nothing but exhilarating, motivating, inspiring, and eye-opening. With adaptability as my filter, I find new opportunities every day among the prevailing uncertainty, disruption and sometimes chaos. It has given me renewed confidence and reinforced my role as a future of work influencer and thought leader. It has given me a positive voice that is heard above all the noise and daily distractions.
AQai has taught me a language that makes the often difficult conversation of transformational change relatable and functional. To make change work, every one of us will need to become more adept at adapting. I’m thrilled to contribute to, co-elevate, and learn from our growing community of AQai practitioners.
About the Author:
Ira S Wolfe is a “Millennial trapped in a Baby Boomer body” and was selected as one of the Top 100 HR Influencers for 2021. He is the president of Poised for the Future Company, founder of Success Performance Solutions, a TEDx Speaker, Top 5 Global Thought Leader on Future of Work and HR (Thinkers360), author of Recruiting in the Age of Googlization, and host of Geeks Geezers Googlization podcast (selected as one of the top 50 podcasts to listen to in 2021).