At the start of a new year, organizations look back and reflect on what went well in previous years, as well as what could have been done better. Many try to look at their successes and learn from past mistakes. However this type of mind set in today’s global organizations does not work.

In a world where businesses are faced with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA), thinking about the past to make sense of the future won’t help. Business leaders need to be able to navigate in a world of constant change and fast paced decision making. This brings about a lot of strain on the human capital of any organization. So what does VUCA mean for your business and how can you set up yourself and your organization for success?

See also: Job opportunities in Malta

We need to reflect on these four areas and ask ourselves:

  • In a world that is highly volatile: Is my organization / business flexible, fast to react, focuses on growth and is good at change management.
  • In a world of uncertainty where we cannot predict the future: is my organization / business adaptable to customer’s needs and demands?
  • In a world of complexity: is my organization / business able to make sense of the chaos that many a times surrounds us? Are we able to operate in a chaotic environment?
  • Operating with ambiguity: how comfortable are you and your employees to work in the unknown? To manage doubts and persevere towards those goals that have been set by the organization?

Having experienced daily this VUCA world during my 6 years in Asia, I can say that those organizations that are able to navigate in these conditions and are also quick to change course fast when the market demands it, will outperform their competitors In the last 10years Asia has seen unprecedented growth while Europe and the US markets where drowning holding to their dear life. The Asian Tiger has definitely come out in full force riding the waves of economic prosperity. And its not over yet. The Hays 2015 salary survey stated that employees can expect more salary increases as business continues to grow and thus demand for highly skilled professionals keeps rising. Let’s come back to Malta which is experiencing a similar cycle to a smaller extent but nonetheless important. In the last edition of Legatum Prosperity Index we can clearly see that Malta is on an exciting trajectory of its own considering our size and small population.

Therefore to the managers and leaders out there, I say:

  1. Look at the culture of your organization and identify traits that will allow your business to react fast, to embrace change, to challenge the status quo and demonstrate resilience

  2. Look at your HR practices and throw out of the window all those engagement surveys, those rigid working contracts and traditional training centres that are aimed at the few employees rather than the mass. Bring in a new wave of HR Business partners who are business literate and not HR literate. Bring in a Chief of HR that drives HR strategically from the “Outside In” and not inside out (source: HR Competencies by Dave Ulrich). It’s useless to measure engagement in a world that is highly mobile and global. It is useless to create contracts that contradict today’s workforce expectations in terms of rapid professional growth and career advancement within a short span of time. Create a mind set of self directed learning and move away from the traditional classroom training. Leave that to the schools and universities as we would be trespassing an area that would be better managed by those competent. On the other hand let us give employees more challenging jobs, participate in projects that can expose them to their global colleagues and other global practices. Let us dare to throw our people in the ocean and take some risks. The lessons they will learn from such experiences will last them a lifetime within your organization.

  3. In a world of ambiguity, join forces with your competitors, create partnerships that leads to a win-win situation rather than loose-loose. Let us stop protecting our turf and share best practices so that together we can learn to navigate in this VUCA world.

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About the Author

Caroline Buhagiar Head of Analytics at

Caroline is an avid and passionate HR professional who has worked in large multinational companies both in manufacturing and the finance sector. She served as Global Learning Director in Europe, US and the last six years in Asia. She has led Corporate Universities with the aim to build the next generation of leaders for her previous organizations. She is fluent in manufacturing excellence, business excellence, building HR capability and driving company performance through leadership development.Her experience working in different countries, leading diverse teams both locally and remotely have given her a clear understanding of what it takes to inspire, lead, grow and manage people.

She holds a Diploma in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Psychology, with a specialization in psychometric testing. She is a certified business coach by CaochU, she can administer the EQ 2.1 test (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), and other 360 degree tools. She can speak fluent Maltese, English, Italian and French.