We no longer live in a VUCA world

A world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

We no longer live in a VUCA world
Photo by Pawel Janiak / Unsplash

We used to say that we live in a VUCA world.

A world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

The VUCA acronym, in the last couple of years, has started to become increasingly meaningless.

Saying that the world is 'volatile' these days kind of feels a bit like labelling a crazy mass murderer as 'unstable'.

Calling things 'uncertain' is a total understatement.

'Complex' and 'Ambiguous'? No shit Sherlock.

As a framework for better understanding what the hell is going on, VUCA just doesn't quite nail it as it once did.

In its place - the suggestion is that we should rather consider the world to be a BANI place; Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear and Incomprehensible.

Our over-specialised and hyper efficient systems have become dangerously brittle and fragile. People and gone way beyond uncertainty, they feel stressed and anxious beyond their control. It is no longer possible to predict the cause-and-effect nature of our actions, small changes can have dramatic and unseen impacts on non-related systems. Things are not just ambiguous - they are downright incomprehensible, trying to makes sense of them is a fool's game.

Infographic on BANI versus VUCA

For many the shift in the demand for a new sense-making acronym may seem frivolous, but this new lens does offer use a more realistic response recipe.

As such, each letter of the acronym also hints at viable options to respond to our current challenges:

  • If something is brittle, it requires capacity and resilience.
  • If we feel anxious, we need empathy and mindfulness.
  • If something is non-linear, it calls for context and adaptivity.
  • If something is incomprehensible, it demands transparency and intuition.

Towards better future solutions

The first step toward solving many of the issues that the world is grappling with today is to honestly admit to and own the reality that we currently face today.

Without acknowledging how things really are, we cannot possibly start putting together preferred alternatives.

So it is official - we live in a BANI world; let's get to work on fixing it.