Applied improv training for disaster readiness and response

We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. VUCA is a military concept (Stiehm and Townsend, 2002) often applied to myriad other contexts that are growing increasingly unstable. Humanitarian workers frequently operate under VUCA conditions where the typical strategic processes of timing, planning, decision making, executing and reflecting are challenged by pressured and unpredictable circumstances.

This is particularly true when dealing with disasters, which demand an ability to respond effectively under the most acute and immediate circumstances. Agile leadership and teamwork are necessary for these difficult conditions, requiring people to have the skills to deal with these elements of the VUCA world (Horney et al., 2010). We need people who are able to take necessary and strategic risks, are good in error recovery instead of failure evasion, can stay calm and focused in the midst of challenges, can process multiple dimensions of a situation at once, can thrive in the unknown, can communicate and collaborate effectively with others and problem solve quickly in the face of uncertainty.