Thriving in a complex and chaotic world

Ever since the US military developed the acronym VUCA in the 1990s to capture uncertain and dynamically changing situations, volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity have characterized the complex VUCA world in which companies have found themselves operating since the era of globalization and digitalization first began. Change has become a constant (volatility), interdependencies and interactions render it impossible to make reliable predictions (uncertainty), while exposing the inherent difficulty of controlling traditional linear systems (complexity), and leaving room for a range of plausible outcomes (ambiguity).

Is the world merely complex or already chaotic?

This question scholars have been asking since the futurist Jamais Cascio prompted in 2020 the acronym BANI, short for brittle, anxious, non-linear, and incomprehensible. Increasingly seeing conditions not merely volatile, uncertain, and complex, but flat-out chaotic; the outcomes not just complex, but thoroughly unpredictable; and the consequences not just ambiguous, but incomprehensible and utterly confusing. Whether VUCA or BANI, two things are certain: Change will continue to accelerate and the phenomenon of disruption is not going to slow down, it’s going to intensify.

Approach the future systematically

To engaging with the future in a more systematic way is more essential than ever. Doing so won’t make these difficulties disappear, but it will create «order» amidst multiple challenges. You’ll be able to see which megatrends are impacting your organization and to which extent you can or cannot influence their effects. Anyone who envisions and works with multiple scenarios will broaden their horizons and realize exactly what actions need to be taken and when. Anyone who then analyzes it all and integrates their findings into their strategy is taking the future into their own hands and giving the company the agility it needs and where it matters.


In the words of the Swiss artist Anna Maier, creator of the wonderful piece Spinning Around:

«The world is spinning faster and faster; there are so many incredible things happening right now. And sometimes it feels like we’re caught in the middle of a maelstrom of events. But when you embrace the change that is currently underway, you can draw from it a seemingly infinite energy.»

Spinning Around symbolizes the turning globe from above. The color palette includes gold, white and, as a base, blue in multi-layered variation. Blue stands for patience, understanding and trust, which is particularly needed in these challenging times.

It’s better to be ready for the future than to simply «see what happens» and find yourself putting out fires right and left. Knowing how to be ready is not as difficult as it might seem at first - it's no rocket science. I know how – I have done it, successfully, many times over.