The Rise of the Stress Arc: Managing Rapid Onset of Change (ROC) and VUCA Phenomena Through Efficacious Strategy

The Rise of the Stress Arc: Managing Rapid Onset of Change (ROC) and VUCA Phenomena Through Efficacious Strategy

Rodney James Luster
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4605-8.ch003
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To date, in the United States, and across the world, business leaders and their respective employees continue to struggle against the scope of pernicious disaster phenomena and invasive “black swan” events that have not only impacted their physical lives, but also their psychological health. This chapter looks at efficacious practices borrowed from the discipline of psychology and preventative programming measures from the world of healthcare which continuously practices for a variety of crisis-scale situations. As well, research herein will help deepen the understanding of VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) environments and the torrential onslaught of rapid onset of change (ROC) circumstances that often accompany crisis situations. The primary focus regards the Stress Arc as a tool with tremendous prospects for helping reorient leaders and employees during crises. And finally, a look at PPEs (psychological performance enhancement) and how they may shape the future when it comes to a crisis.
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Anatomy of a Crisis: VUCA, ROC and the Preeminence of COVID 19

According to research by Sun-Ju Kim (2021), a crisis or disaster is considered an impacting event that can have serious ramifications on the physical, social, and economic contextuality of a region. Discourses on disaster events often embody noted psychological and manifested behavioral reactions within the general public that additionally accompany such phenomena. The magnitude of peripheral effects can be felt in all margins of society, which notably include business and industry who must maintain operations during such extremes for vital items that may be needed by consumers (Morrish & Jones, 2020). Case in point, COVID-19 evidenced itself as a massively complex issue and phenomenon which produced the power to rapidly destabilize an entire array of economic infrastructure and social systems. Moreover, what has been shown true is that within all cases of crises events, there exist some strikingly similar universal cognitive and affective reactions witnessed in the “response behaviors” of leaders and employees, as well as the general public (Ahmadi et al., 2022).

Using COVID-19 and the pandemic as a motif throughout this chapter, the author seeks to deepen the reader’s understanding of the negative contributors to crisis-level situations such as those emerging from “VUCA inspired” events where volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments can become the harshest operational agitators for leaders and employees to work within. In addition, addressing the velocity of issues, or what is termed Rapid Onset of Change (ROC) circumstances, in which crisis- level events arise quickly, derailing employees and leaders, is yet another priority herein. As well, we will briefly lend to this picture, healthcare as an industry that proactively manages and dutifully prepares for impacts by adopting strong preventative programing measures relative to potential crisis-level situations. With a deepened understanding of such environmental agitators and a proactive example from industry, this chapter then shifts to a primary focus of examining the author’s suggested tool for leaders and their employees termed the “Stress Arc,” which is based on a survey of pivotal psychological strengths to help depict important psychological assets that can be positively modified and capitalized upon in any crisis event. And finally, the research herein will provide insights for leaders and their employees on how they can better operationalize core preventative measures that will help bolster resilience for future crisis-level issues that will most inevitably come.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Rapid Onset of Change (ROC): The force of environmental change usually brought on by crisis events ushering in dramatic and problematic organizational potentials.

Nitrostative Stress: Refers to internal changes within the human body as a result of stress where higher than normal levels of Nitric Oxide (NO) states which may have severe implications on health and functioning.

Resilience: Psychologically, resilience is the ability for one to mentally cope with crisis and to be able to return to pre-crisis stability quickly.

PsyCap: The term references “psychological capital” which denotes the notion of positive organizational behavior engaged in to enhance performance. First referenced in the work of Luthans & Broad (2020) from a paper titled “Positive Psychological Capital to Help Combat the Mental Health Fallout From the Pandemic and VUCA Environment.”

Stress Arc: The name under which 5 primary stress influencers predominate including: Analysis of Impact Agents, Efficacy, Resilience, Locus of Control and Adaptability.

Locus of Control: One’s internal belief that they themselves have control over their life.

Intrapsychic: Occurring within one’s mind.

Self-Efficacy: Refers to an individual’s belief in their own capacity to execute on behaviors for desired outcomes.

VUCA: A term referencing environments that are volatile, uncertain, complex, or ambiguous.

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