Life in Combat and Leading in the VUCA World

An amazing talk explaining the difficulties and challenges of leading in a war-like situation, using the infamous 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks as an example to demonstrate how the dynamics of the game keep changing every split second.

An engaging and fascinating narration of how incredible the Indian Army, and it’s special forces are, using the 26/11 Terror Attacks as an example to explain the nuances.

VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity is derived from military vocabulary.

  • V = Volatility. The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.
  • U = Uncertainty. The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.
  • C = Complexity. The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues and the chaos and confusion that surround an organization.
  • A = Ambiguity. The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.

26/11 was one of the most ghastly terror attacks ever attempted on Earth, not simply because of the number of casualties, psychological damage, and associated trauma, but BECAUSE it wasn’t another bomb blast – the traditional way in which terrorists spread fear, panic and horror.

The sheer audacity of the operation – sending in 10 heavily armed assailants to carry out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across a city, and “kill as many people they could” was unheard of, at-least in modern history.

The attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation, began on Wednesday, 26 November and lasted until Saturday, 29 November 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.

This powerful talk by Mr. Raman gives an account of how the NSG personnel and the security forces accomplished something which had never been done before, and explains the complexities of the operation – including why it took over 3 days to officially confirm the Mumbai siege had ended.