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EGALITARIAN | VUCA: A Perspective of Change and Future

PERHAPS YOU have heard about VUCA, or might have rummaged through some business articles stipulating VUCA.

To be honest, I heard about VUCA when I joined the Master in Public Safety Administration (MPSA) class offered by the Philippine Public Safety College, a year ago. 

We were assigned as a regular class, the RC 2023-24, composed of police officers of the lieutenant colonel ranks, jail officers ranging from chief inspector to senior superintendent, fire officers with fire superintendent to senior superintendents, coast guard commanders; holders of doctorate degrees; officers of the DILG; school administrators and principals; foreign service professionals; directors and bureau chiefs of government agencies; customs officers, environmental experts, business owners, private practitioners, and a renowned national artist. 

Given that the artist is a popular personality himself, I might as well name him here — Cesar Montano whom we fondly call as Kuya Buboy.

The good thing about the MPSA, which is a counterpart of the MNSA of the National Defense College, is that the course exposes us to various perspectives that improve the quality of well-being. 

People might be thinking that since it is public safety then everything is about safety and security, protection and defense. On the one hand it is true, on the other it is not adequate. 

To be safe and secure is to think and feel safe; no harm comes ones’ way at any given time and place. 

But this is close to impossible because there will always be threats, there will always be hazards. It is the nature of things. 

There is chaos as there is order. In fact, what defines great societies are the nature of chaos that they were able to surmount and tame in the course of their history.

The United States was once a colony of the British. India is a thousand years’ civilization. China went through dynasties in the span of centuries. Rome superseded great Greek societies and was supplanted, within the millennium new philosophies that defined, redefined and re-create the world. 

As these things happen, one concept that survived time is the wisdom that change is constant. Those who meld with the changes survived — this is natural selection. 

Those who see changes coming and swiftly move to the side avoid being hit by the disastrous smite.

Thanks to our professors composed of experts from UP, Dela Salle, MSU, the Public Safety College, and agencies of the government, the British Embassy, multilateral organizations like the United Nations, and of course, the ideas shared by the seasoned retired general and an academic expert, PLtGen. Ricardo De Leon of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

All of them honed our VUCA perspectives. VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. 

Volatility refers to how the change changes, is it sudden or slowly taking shape, while uncertainty means there are plenty of information not known. Things and events will continue to be unclear at present.  

The complexity is suggestive of multiplicity of situations and perspectives. A single event may trigger multiple events that may lead to more events in the near or far future. While ambiguity is the absence of sense-making or lack of reasonableness associated with events. 

While the world is VUCA, the security and safety mindset have to be inquisitive and anticipatory. 

How well one can predict the future, if there even is a foreseeable future? In the thick of things, how much information one knows about the situation, and of these information, what are those likely that can help in building a solid shape of the surviving situation. 

While VUCA is popularized by the US Naval Academy, it was first developed by the Harvard economists Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus for making sense and analysis of rapidly changing and unpredictable nature and extent of the change that may appear at present and in the future with underlying connections to many components that contribute to chaos and confusion. 

When we can grapple with these things, we can turn VUCA from volatile to vision, uncertain to understanding, complex to clarity and ambiguity to agility. 

Amidst VUCA, people can develop vision, achieve understanding, respond with clarity and interact with agility. If these are mastered, individually or collectively, we can sail through time and distance as a strong nation. The shape of the future is made today.

But tomorrow, the 47 students of the Public Safety College, will march to earn their degrees as public safety experts. And I am plainly happy to be part of the pack.


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