COVID-19 in Our Times: a VUCA analysis on businesses

This year, we have been hit by a global pandemic, COVID-19. In turn, this has disrupted the ways in which we go about our daily lives; be it work, school, and other activities. Countries and government across the globe have implemented social distancing, self-isolation and quarantines. Because of this, businesses are now faced with multiple predicaments: having to work from home, a setback in profits, running out of stock of consumerables, retrenchments, foreclosure, the list goes on… of course it takes many measures to go about preparing for an unpredicted circumstance such as this, hence it is vital for any business to practice mindfulleadership and adapt readiness in relation to the World of V.U.C.A. In this article, I’ll be delving into the implementation of a VUCA analysis on businesses regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

For starters, let’s look at the pandemic itself, in a South African context. COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus alongside SARS. This virus causes respiratory illnesses with coughing, sneezing, fever and difficulty breathing. It is a highly contagious disease that one can contract through the eyes, mouth and nose. Scientists and specialists are going the extensive route in establishing how to go about combatting this virus as it currently does not have a cure nor vaccine.

The country dealt with its first case at the beginning of March and as of the 23/3, the country is now facing a rapid increase of over 400+ cases. On the 15th of March, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation with the following precautions in order to minimise the spread of the virus:

  • Travel bans on foreign nationals from high risk countries as from 18th March 2020

  • Cancelled VISA from high risk countries
  • South Africans to refrain from traveling to China, Iran, USA, Italy, Spain and

    other high risk countries

  • Denied VISAs from foreign nationals who had visited high risk countries in the

    past 21 days

  • All travellers who have travelled to high risk countries from February should be tested
  • 35 ports will be shut down from Monday 16/3
  • All non-essential travel for government was banned
  • Gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited
  • Large government events are cancelled
  • Schools are to be closed until the Easter Holiday
  • Visits to all correctional services are suspended for 30 days
  • Hygiene control at all businesses
  • Isolation and quarantine sites are being setup in all districts and metros
  • Mass communication campaign is being undertaken by government
  • Remember to wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds.


A recap on from my article, VUCA: Time to wake up and smell the coffee, leaders! VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. The concept derived from students at the U.S. Army War College as a means to describe the world after the Cold War, symbolizing the unpredictability and rapid change of the world that is out of one’s control. The concept has now gained purpose in leadership and is quite relevant in our current world, especially with how we can go about overcome the ramifications of COVID-19 in our time.

I think it is vital to reintroduce VUCA:

V– Volatility: Change is rapid and inevitable.
U– Uncertainty: The future is unpredictable.
C– Complexity: Many situations may be happening at the same time.
A– Ambiguity: Lack of clarity
leads to not knowing the root cause of a situation.

V: We, as business owners or employees, need to embrace the changes that are going to come with COVID-19. The world is already changing as is. With social distancing being a focal point, we are seeing how virtual business meetings are taking place. The Internet and technology have made it easier to manage this pandemic and ensure that business goes on as usual.

U: understanding that the future is indeed unpredictable. With that, we need to accept it too. Your uncertainty should encourage and enable you to learn to prepare for the unexpected. Following the trends, analysing your competitions, asking the right questions, can ease your uncertainty as well as improve your readiness for whatever is coming your way. Understanding how to go about change and adapting to that, can prolong your longevity in the corporate world. What can you do to change with the times? How do you prevent your ideas from being redundant and aged? How do you improve customer experience? This way, you can take advantage of new opportunities and positively change uncertainty to anticipation.

C: clarifying your communication. With the way we communicate, it is important to articulate ourselves appropriately. This is time to be transparent about the way forward, thus encouraging open dialogues between stakeholders, colleagues, employees etc. Remember, a transparent working environment encourages your team to work smarter on complex problems together.

A: be agile. Adapting to the changes that occur after an unexpected predicament can ensure some level of longevity. This

means learning new skills, understanding new technologies and encouraging creativity can assist in your business flourishing in new structures. Develop yourself and your team, no-one should be left behind, especially when they have more to offer.


In our current state, we may not know how to go about the situation of the pandemic, and how it will transform the structures of the world that we know. The important thing is to remain mindful, and understand that as humans, we have an exceptional way of adapting to anything, hence the constant development of our world and technologies.