Posted by: Prof. J. Basilea Catherine

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VUCA to BANI –The evolving change

The existing scenario in the world which is perceived to be Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous represents VUCA. VUCA had its beginnings in the Army of the United States to guide the operations of the military force, in conflicts. However, the term is used to represent the changes in the social world. The popularity of VUCA was high during the emergence of the Internet in the 1980s.


The speed of change that occurs in an industry or market refers to its volatility. For instance, the demand fluctuations that happen in the market reflect the volatile nature of the industry. The future is uncertain. The extent to which we can predict the future happenings and behavior of a certain market has itself become highly unpredictable, which shows the uncertain nature of the market. The predictability becomes harder when the uncertainty of the world increases. The number of factors that are taken into account, the variety available for those factors, and the interconnectivity between these factors decide the complexity of the market. When the complexity is greater, it becomes more difficult to arrive at conclusions that are rational. A lack of clarity due to incomplete, contradicting, or inaccurate information refers to the ambiguity in the market, aka fuzziness in ideas.


The concept of VUCA enabled the markets to create meaning when faced with volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous situations. After the onset of the novel Coronavirus in 2019, the global markets saw an unprecedented situation, that even VUCA could not help.


The saviour arrived in the form of BANI, by Jamais Cascio, who is an anthropologist, author, and futurist from the United States of America. The term BANI refers to Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear, and Incomprehensible.


Businesses built on fragile foundations are susceptible to falling apart at any time, due to the brittle and catastrophic nature of the market, in the post-Covid era. The outward working of a particular business, may not reveal its fragility, when in reality, the business may be breaking apart. Hence, full dependence on operations may not work out well for the market. When one industry is disrupted, the other industries may too be affected and hence an entire collapse of operations may happen. Over-emphasis on the maximization of profit may result in other issues, the well-being of employees being ignored, resulting in serious loopholes in the business. The issue of failing to address weaknesses in the business results in the fall of the business, in the most unexpected hour.


Anxiety is prevalent everywhere in the market due to the huge supply of information, both for personal and professional reasons, which leads to an urgency in decision-making. When under pressure and tension, the right decision cannot be taken. Moreover, being pessimistic could be taken as a protective mechanism, but to a certain extent. Innovation may be suppressed in such a scenario. Becoming passive may be another fallout of anxiety. The importance of emotional intelligence is stressed, which is the most appropriate way to handle this issue.


The current turn of events in the world is mostly disconnected and disproportionate, which makes standardization difficult. The cause-and-effect structure may not be feasible always. Due to this non-linear scenario, long-term planning becomes obsolete. The effects on public health, climate issues, and the economy may not have a starting or ending date. Today’s problems would be the consequence of decisions taken centuries back, where the market must be prepared to move back and forth, instead of a linear approach.


Solutions obtained for specific problems become meaningless, which reveals the fact that everything is not under our control. In the current world, the causes for certain happenings and the decisions are not understandable. Even though there is plenty of information, the difficulty in finding the truth has become more hard.


Investing in training and developing a team in a collaborative atmosphere, would help businesses to be more resilient to this BANI scenario. Collaboration helps in improving communication and transparency increases among the teams as well as the individuals. Soft skills training would aid in creating empathetic individuals, to deal with anxiety. Innovation is the key when looking for solutions in the non-linear world. A rigid plan may not work right. Businesses need to look for newer methods and ideas, rather than holding on only to the ‘proven’ methods so that they quickly adapt to the changes in the market and not fall behind. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence could be used to seek remedies for the misunderstanding prevailing due to the incomprehensible nature of the BANI world.



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