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The VUCA approach as a solution concept to corporate foresight challenges and global technological disruption

Jari Roy Lee Kaivo-oja (Finland Futures Research Centre, Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Iris Theresa Lauraeus (Department of Information and Service Economy, School of Business, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland)

Foresight

ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 12 March 2018

Abstract

Purpose

Under current market conditions of corporate foresight, turbulence is a key element of the business landscape. Turbulence can be summarised using the trendy managerial acronym “VUCA”: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. This paper aims to combine, for the first time, scientific discussion of technological disruption with the VUCA approach. Gartner Hype Cycle is used as a case example of technological turbulence and “vucability”.

Design/methodology/approach

First, the authors present the key concepts of technological disruption and radical innovation. Both these concepts are highly relevant for modern corporate foresight. Second, the authors discuss the key elements of current technological transformation and summarise it to create a bigger picture. Third, the authors link this discussion to the VUCA approach. Fourth, the authors present the new corporate foresight framework, which is highly relevant for corporations and takes current technological transformation more seriously than previous proposals, which expect more stable business and a technological landscape.

Findings

Key issues in modern VUCA management are agility (response to volatility), information and knowledge management (response to uncertainty), restructuring (response to complexity) and experimentation (response to ambiguity). Useful foresight tools are challenging tools, decision-making tools, aligning tools, learning tools and the ability to combine these management tools in the practices of corporate foresight and management systems. The VUCA approach is a key solution concept to technological disruption.

Practical implications

The authors present the new corporate foresight framework and management tool based on foresight, which help leaders to manage VUCA – especially under the conditions of hyper-competition and technological disruption.

Originality/value

Corporate leaders should reinvent the strategic planning framework and adjust it to the VUCA conditions and simply be more strategic. Traps and typical failures of foresight are adopting it too early, giving up too soon, adapting too late and hanging on too long. In particular, technological transformation with disruptive technologies is changing and challenging many basic assumptions of business management and strategic planning. Our comparative analysis with Gartner Hype Cycle (fast technological changes from 2008 to 2016) verifies this important aspect of technological disruption.

Keywords

Citation

Kaivo-oja, J.R.L. and Lauraeus, I.T. (2018), "The VUCA approach as a solution concept to corporate foresight challenges and global technological disruption", Foresight, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 27-49. https://doi.org/10.1108/FS-06-2017-0022

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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