Last year, Jamais Cascio published in his medium account an article called “Facing the age of chaos” in which a new framework, the BANI (for Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear and Incomprehensible context) framework, was introduced to take over the well-known VUCA framework. We have been using VUCA for decades to try to deal with changes and make decisions.
What stood me out the most while reading is the reason why it seems VUCA can’t help us deal with the world today. The article develops the idea that we’ve been using the VUCA framework to order and understand a world that is no longer ordered or understandable. We have some more or less successful strategies whose first aim is to change the context into a more predictable one. In other words, change things into something that we can handle. And now, it seems we need to go a step further to deal with what is happening, educating ourselves to live within the chaos, without order. That’s against everything we’ve been trying to do as a species!
Answers in the emotional field
Totally true. We can no longer try to control and understand what is happening around. COVID crisis is a good example of that. There are many implications we don’t expect, even one year and a half later. There will be many consequences we aren’t able to foresee. Therefore, we need to get along with uncertainty, wanted or not.
In chaos, we are far from our comfort zone. Thus, maybe it’s time to try a different approach: a mix between rational strategy and emotional foundation, making room for another set of capacities, less recognized in the past.
Even without knowing about this BANI framework, we can see the non-linearity in our world. This is one of our biggest problems today: causes and effects seem disconnected. We can make a big effort in one direction and get unquantified and unexpected results. We ask for certainties – as we always do – expecting facts that don’t change with time, and we receive information that changes every other day, leaving us with the sensation of being fooled. Fear and despair ride free because we now know we can’t predict the future any more.
Non-linearity calls for adaptation
Non-linearity calls for adaptation. The rational strategy we’ve followed is not fast enough to accomplish that. The reason why our mind is slow is its need for comprehension. Without a reasonable amount of understanding, it is impossible for our brain to make changes. We freeze as an answer to the unknown.
This leads me into that incomprehensibility present in the BAIN framework, very much related with the non-linearity. Since we can no longer relate causes with its effects, we can’t come into explanations and descriptions of what is happening. And again, our brain fails in applying rationality. We are so used to rely on only in our rational capacity that we get lost when it fails to provide answers. Good news is that we have more resources and knowledge that those we can recall.
Incomprehensibility calls for intuition
Incomprehensibility calls for intuition. That what you know without knowing that you know. Janice Maturano, in her book “Finding the space to lead”, talks about the power of intuition when leading in the chaos. Not everything is collected data, our experiences provides us with useful information we may not be aware of having. Therefore, create the space to access to it is important if we want to succeed.
In this non-linear and incomprehensible context, non-rational adaptation and intuition ring bells of primary skills in nature, where there’s no need to understand to take action.
What we could learn
It seems clear that we need to change the approach in solving problems combining different resources: the rational capacity with emotional and senses capability. First step to do that is escaping from a conventional and convergent thinking in which we work in narrower perspectives.
One answer for that is to actively look for unconventional and diverse talent in our teams. People bringing new capacities, views and approach. Same way nature does with many of its process.
Diversity might be the answer for the challenges ahead.