Crisis has become part of everyday life – and I’m not the only one who feels this way since the start of the 2020 pandemic. That’s why I find BANI, a new approach to clarifying the framework conditions of our time, all the more interesting. What are the differences to VUCA, the model that has preoccupied us since the late 1980s, early 1990s? And what does this mean for companies, also from the SME sector?
Times change, the ancient Romans already knew that. But our world has become more complex and chaotic, and this is becoming more and more a part of our consciousness. To describe the change, it is helpful to put the changed framework conditions into words.
The VUCA world is getting on in years…
Already in the late 1980s – after the end of the Cold War – the acronym VUCA emerged, which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. VUCA opened the doors to agile management and agile problem-solving strategies that work with scenarios, models or simulations, among other things.
…and the BANI world enters the stage
BANI is an acronym developed by Jamais Cascio, a futurologist, to describe the framework for an increasingly chaotic world. BANI stands for brittle, anxious, worried, non-linear and incomprehensible. Because our present has become even more complex, even more incalculable than imagined in the VUCA world. Pandemic, climate crisis, political and economic uncertainties, in short: permanent crisis mode, are on the agenda and are the new challenges that politics, economy and society have to face. BANI is supposed to help put this change into words.
But what does BANI actually mean?
are systems that are rotten from the inside although they still look intact from the outside. But a small change can cause these systems to collapse. The alternative is to move towards more resilient and flexible systems that are more adaptable to the challenges of the day.
describes the excessive demands of making decisions in new and unfamiliar situations, the consequences of which cannot be fully foreseen. You may remember the sentence of former Health Minister Jens Spahn at the beginning of the pandemic: “We will have a lot to forgive ourselves for.” Because we cannot afford to go into shock and do nothing. What we can learn: to deal better with uncertainties and fears, to show courage and to act mindfully and emphatically, i.e. to explain a lot.
involves the loss of causality, i.e. the ever-popular if-then thinking. We keep more and more balls in the air and should therefore remain flexible and keep an eye on the relevant context. Because even small changes could have far-reaching consequences.
stands for changes that we cannot comprehend and that therefore unsettle us all the more. Even if we have a lot – often too much – information, this does not really make some events and decisions any easier to understand. As far as possible, more transparency helps here to be able to distinguish between signal and noise. And if that doesn’t work either, we have to learn to trust not only our head but also our intuition.
Even if day-to-day business is extremely demanding for almost all people, organisations and institutions, I think it makes sense to engage with the BANI world. Therefore, please take a look at the following graphic by Stephan Grabmeyer, which clearly summarises the differences between the two models.
Do you need orientation in the BANI world? Feel free to contact me or take advantage of my new advisory service.