“The world is changed... I feel it in the water,
I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air.
Much that once was is lost...”
Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings.
Superfast changes occur not only in John Tolkien's books with the peoples of Middle-earth, but also in the real world on Earth. What would have taken decades previously, now happens in a matter of months. Old rules disappear while understandable new ones DON’T appear instead of them. We all get a feeling that we don’t meet the requirements of modern life.
The state of the modern world is usually described with the VUCA term. I will briefly recall it below for better understanding of the new BANI world.
The VUCA stage replaced the SPOD world — steady, predictable, ordinary, and definite. The period of SPOD influence ended in the 1980s due to the rapid development of technology and the increase in the data amount.
The term “VUCA” appeared in 1987 and was used as a definition of a constantly changing world where you had to study and process huge amounts of information as well as quickly respond to new facts. In workflows, it looks like this:
- Volatility (V) gives impetus to unpredictable transformations and the appearance of twofold situations: not only in everyday life but also in business. It’s not clear how long this state can last, and how to conduct business in conditions of such rapidly changing circumstances.
- Uncertainty (U) doesn’t provide the possibility for planning further actions due to the lack of necessary information. Making decisions based on past successful experiences doesn’t always bring positive results. It’s impossible to predict the effectiveness of development and introduction of new products to the market.
- Complexity (C) is interpreted as too much information and secondary factors that don’t allow making informed decisions and planning the next steps. The number of rules, norms, documents, and restrictions complicates the process of creating and promoting new goods and services on the market.
- Ambiguity (A) is the lack of clear game rules. There is always a risk of conflicting information. The behavior of customers when a new business model appears is unknown; it’s impossible to calculate the outcome you’ll get as a result of your efforts.
In the VUCA environment, it’s already difficult to manage companies aimed at gradual growth and development. You should be able to think strategically, find ways out of crisis situations, make and implement decisions quickly, and take thoughtful risks.
As soon as it started to seem that businesses began to get used to this, the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have shown that chaos can come to us even faster. Describing the state of the modern world, we can call it borderline with almost no landmarks left. To name it, the futurist Jamais Cascio, by analogy with the previous ones, has offered to use a new abbreviated term — BANI.
BANI is a faster and more complex chaotic world with no clear structure. In comparison to it, the volatile VUCA world literally looks like the center of calm and order.
There is an interesting esoteric parallel between the worlds of SPOD-VUCA-BANI and the transition of mankind from the age of Kali-yuga to the New Age. Right now the world is on the border between these two periods, and it brings a certain tension as the scriptures say.
Futurologists, on the other hand, believe that we are at the beginning of a period where centuries of artificial intelligence development, robots, and synthetic food await us. It is predicted that there will be technologies and devices which will allow comfort life, but ... for a small part of Earth's population, leaving most of the people poor. Eventually, it can lead to the disappearance of all life if we don’t reconsider our approaches and values.
However, everyone agrees that the current stage can be referred to as “borderline”. It’s a time when people have to survive while making tremendous efforts due to changes in so many aspects simultaneously as well as due to the lack of psycho-emotional support. The absorption of minds by imposed stereotypes, the rise of bad habits, the shift in spiritual values, the preoccupation with material problems, the lack of happiness within oneself, and the excessive external orientation are the distinguishing features of this period.
What Is BANI?
If you look closely, you realize that the scriptures are mainly right in describing such periods as extremely gloomy. Fortunately, there is also a bright side. Those, who aren’t afraid of forthcoming changes, who can prioritize the material and the spiritual (both are important), who can be morally stable, get a chance to live a healthy fulfilling life. Now the results of thoughts and actions return to people much faster than ever. Karma, or the law of cause and effect, works instantly! You can go through inner transformation and change yourself. Seize the opportunity to achieve success, get spiritual growth, and smooth out the negative consequences of past wrong deeds. Anyway, it will be useful!
So, what does the BANI world have to do with it? Let's look at it closely and take it as a guide for individual transformation. After all, I don’t want to write another “horror story” article, because there are enough of them on the Internet, or tell how COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine have messed up the intended prospects. 2019 and 2022 made it absolutely clear that you always need to know how to act in the world of constantly changing external circumstances, restless thoughts, and uncertainty about the future. That’s what we'll talk about today.
What the BANI abbreviation means and what it stands for:
- Brittle (B). Our habitual ways of action and methods can collapse at any moment. No one is protected, there is no reliable support, and any little thing can shake the established order.
- Anxious (A). This world keeps everyone in a state of anxiety. It’s unknown where you will be tomorrow, what will happen soon, and what opportunities will be lost.
- Nonlinear (N). There is no clear link between cause and effect. An event can affect a future goal in the most unexpected way. To achieve the result, you have to take numerous multidirectional actions.
- Incomprehensible (I). There is a lack of knowledge and data; decisions are made by touch. It’s impossible to form a clear picture of events happening around you.
Reorientation is a reality today, and we can’t leave it aside. We want transformations, but we are extremely afraid of changes and events we can’t explain. Experts, who study the psychology of modern people, recommend some rules for those who want to reduce the stress effect:
- Treat the changes in the world as new opportunities, don’t delay your development.
- The feeling of anxiety has always been with people. Train your stamina, become stronger while facing chaos, toughen up and learn to benefit from failure.
- There is no point in long-term strategies when everything changes so quickly. Move forward step by step, be attentive, and take proactive steps whenever possible. Establish the most comfortable horizons. For me, for example, it’s 1 day, you may have 1 hour. Make a plan for a given time, and as soon as you finish it, you’ll get motivation for the next achievements.
- Be prepared for any eventuality; be flexible and creative while making decisions.
- Learn from mistakes, make adjustments, and test new methods that can help you become better. Don't wait for the perfect moment!
- Try to understand the essence of what happens — put aside everything that is unnecessary. Trust your intuition and experience. Often instant decisions can be more accurate than carefully considered ones.
- Don't worry if everything seems to be turned upside down. How do you know that the strategy you are used to is better than the new one?
- And the most important thing — master new competencies!
According to experts, by 2030 due to the technology development, there will be about 375 million people in the world who will have to change their professions or become unemployed! Hundreds of professions will disappear or lead people’s careers to a dead end: ushers, quantity surveyors, bank managers, cashiers, dispatchers, economists, secretaries, call center operators, etc. They will lose their jobs unless they change their specialization.
It’s well-known that people use the knowledge which can be applied in practice. Traditional higher education doesn’t usually provide students with practical skills and necessary training that could help to get a good job. Our changing world turns lifelong learning into a particular value. Thanks to a continuous process of learning, it’s much easier to adapt to changes in the labor market.
What Skills Will Be Important, What Knowledge Should Be Acquired and What Illusions Should Be Abandoned in the New BANI World?
- A permanent stable job isn’t something to rely on these days. The main task is the ability to adapt and let new skills as well as new people into your life. If you don't see any opportunities for professional and personal growth at your workplace, then change it. Or simultaneously start blogging, consulting, and creating a personal brand in the information space.
- The important moment: gaining new knowledge at lectures and courses should influence your behavior as well as help you to view the world in a different way. If it’s not this way, then you study in the wrong place.
- Learn a couple of related professions now! Or, even better, master the one that will allow you to work remotely in our modern online world. Don't quit your current job for the sake of learning — finish it and then start looking for a new position. For example, in addition to my specialized financial education, and constant development of expertise in project management, I’m getting psychological education, and also I have a massage therapist diploma. My grandmothers, who had survived the war, used to teach, “You should be able to work both with your head and with your hands — there is no bad job.”
- Starting with the VUCA world, soft skills have become extremely significant, and they continue to get more and more attention now, so develop them! From time to time I do a 360 personal skill assessment for myself and take the results into my personal development plan. For example, now I’m working on the ability to be fully present in the moment: to concentrate on what I’m doing without running away into other thoughts.
- Find time to stop and thank people who have changed your life. Right now write messages on how grateful you are to them and for what.
What Kind of Leader Do You Have To Be in Order To Help Other People Cope With the BANI World As Well as Not Let the New Conditions Confuse You?
- To know how to set up processes in such a way so people can cope with stress and won’t be afraid to make decisions in a state of uncertainty.
- To remember that there are no mistakes — there are lessons and ways that haven’t worked. However, they will definitely bring your employees closer to a working action plan. A leader encourages efforts to find a solution and rejoices that each failure brings a team closer to success.
- A good manager has flexible planning skills as well as can teach employees to take advantage of opportunities and make forecasts.
- To make decisions with confidence, to see the whole situation, and maintain inner calm at critical moments. To do this, you have to find practices that clear your head: meditation, prayers, the practice of shinrin-yoku, or looking at the fire.
- To remember about humanity and building relationships, to believe in the team’s success, to be ready for constructive criticism and always be open to dialogue.
- To encourage new ideas and curiosity among colleagues as well as empower them and cultivate an understanding that daily changes are normal for your company.
- To know what skills will be in demand in the future and encourage training and reskilling among employees. This type of leader constantly works to become better and is interested in professional, intellectual, emotional and spiritual development.
Remember: if you don’t want to change yourself, there will be someone who’ll do it faster than you. You need to learn new skills, make operational decisions, and keep abreast if you want to find your place in the new world.
It's time to say goodbye to VUCA, the stunning world of BANI has arrived!