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Heuristics #15 Expected the Unexpected

The Context

For the past few decades, we have viewed the world through the VUCA lens. Almost everyone knows the VUCA acronym, namely; Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The world has since changed. It became more complex, and phenomena like COVID meant that VUCA no longer adequately described our environment. New thinking and new terminology were required. A ‘future-looking’ concept was introduced last year, namely; BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear and Incomprehensible).

The Question

Given that BANI means:

  • Brittle: quick to shatter, capable of total and sudden failure
  • Anxious: fear that there are no correct choices
  • Nonlinear: lack of clarity between perceived cause and effect
  • Incomprehensible: exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, to understand.

Is BANI a useful orientation locus for trying to make sense of the world?

Heuristic 1: Be Realistic

BANI allows for a more accurate account of our current circumstances and, in a sense, paves the way to make the world a little more digestible.

Heuristic 2: Embrace Change

BANI better equips us for inevitable and constant change.

Heuristic 3: Drive Partnerships

BANI highlights the glaring need for increased, and meaningful, collaboration, inclusion, and resilience.

Heuristic 4: Manage Expectations

BANI enlightens us that sometimes it is okay ‘not’ to know and that you can be better off expecting the unexpected.


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