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Countering Complexity with Clarity: The changing face of HSE in a VUCA world


VUCA is an innocuous acronym for a complex issue that impacts the risk landscape of large organizations. Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous, or VUCA describes the nature of the present. We find ourselves in world transformed at previously unprecedented speeds by technology and business, and where the complexity for these increase exponentially.

According to Forbes, the term VUCA originated with students at the U.S. Army War College to describe the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of the world after the Cold War. And now, the concept is gaining new relevance to characterize the current world environment and the leadership required to navigate it successfully.

In terms of risk management, VUCA speaks to the unpredictable impact of events outside the organization, whether negative or positive. And, in an increasingly digitally advanced world, technology, intelligently applied, becomes the tool by which the uncertainty can be better managed.


Megatrends affecting HSE


Megatrends are long-term patterns or processes of transformation currently taking place. They are global forces that potentially define a future world, with potentially far-reaching impacts on businesses, societies, economies, environments, cultures, and individuals. By recognizing global megatrends organizations are better able to drive growth and innovation in a rapidly changing environment.

The Health, Safety and Environmental professional will soon be able to choose from a wider number of solutions that incorporate the latest developments in electronics, cellular and wireless communication, sensors, and software, all of which are driven by and are essential components of three megatrends:

  • IoT
  • Big Data
  • Social Networking

These trends are fundamentally altering the way in which we go about collecting information for risk assessment, exposure assessment, and how we implement better and more cost-effective solutions for protecting workers’ lives and well-being. The more we become aware of these trends and developments, the better we will be able to integrate them into our sampling strategies and analysis methods, which creates greater value from our daily work as health and safety professionals.


The future of work


According to EY’s report “Why Should I Trust You – A fresh look at HSE culture”, The digital era, technology, automation, and robotics will transform industry and how workers fit into it. We face an ageing population of workers at the same time that we upskill our next generation for roles that don’t even exist today. The future workplace is becoming more diverse, flexible, and collaborative. While an ageing population can be an asset, providing a wealth of skills, knowledge, wisdom and mentorship, it also presents challenges, such as a widening retirement savings gap and rapidly escalating healthcare expenditure. This changes people’s lifestyles, the services they demand and the structure of the labor force.

The future of work requires a fresh perspective on Health, Safety & Environment. The discipline is no longer a straight-cut focus on eliminating fatalities and reducing harm. While this fundamental necessity will remain, we need to also build resilience, capability and efficiency. The future of HSE requires an integrated view on risk that takes the bigger picture into account. According to EY, “the accepted models for safety culture may no longer align to leading practice or latest research on safety, business culture or people engagement. They do not address future needs around mental health, automation and technology. Nor have they been updated to consider the growing impact of globalization, diversity, flexible work and the changing demographics of workers.”

IsoMetrix, in partnership with Foundamentality is hosting a Spanish-language webinar that addresses these issues on November 12.