Packaging in VUCA times

VUCA times

“VUCA” stands for Volatile (dynamic, fast change), Uncertain (lack of predictability), Complex (multiplex of forces, and Ambiguous (hazy reality). The term was first coined by the US Army War College during the collapse of the Soviet Union. And today we’re living in VUCA times. From the swings in the economy, to unrest in Ukraine or Libya, to the changing rules of privacy with Big Data – all are examples of macro VUCA movements. There are also micro VUCA movements as people and categories evolve in new ways.

Succeeding in business (packaging or otherwise) takes a certain approach, which I propose summarizes into five lessons. First, you must ensure great leadership. This includes having a crystal-clear vision for what you wish to accomplish; this vision is the beacon that helps cut through the VUCA noise.

Second, you need a clear strategy. A strategy explains the investments and tradeoffs you are willing to make to accomplish your vision.

Third, you need a team and colleagues that “look around the corner.” Finding smart people with traits centered on innovation (e.g., optimistic, creative, kaleidoscopic thinking, customer-minded, unafraid of failure) is essential.

Fourth, you have to get the most out of your resources. Gallup revealed that only 30% of U.S. employees are “engaged” with their company. There are ways to drive much higher engagement, which leads to productivity.

Finally, you must execute maniacally. VUCA times require deliberate action; you must “lean in” to accomplish your goals. And you need to measure the right elements to assess your discipline.

We live in fascinating times. VUCA will paralyze some people and companies. How are you addressing VUCA?