It is incredible how fast various social theories evolve. To be precise: how fast they evolve from one misconception to another.

Let me explain this criticism by the example of the much-propagated evolution from VUCA to BANMany accessible resources explainain both acronyms. Since they do differ much, let me refer to this one.

Within VUCA, Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, which according to social theorists, marked “the previous” environment, not companies and individuals face the BANI reality, Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear, and Incomprehensible.

If I go directly to my point: various so-calledled theorists are baffled with the past and present reality precisely because they do not comprehend two concepts from the boost acronyms, complexity and nonlinearity.

Complexity according to the “expert” view is:

C = Complexity – this refers to the number of factors we need to consider to make more efficient decisions, their variety, and the relationships between them: the more factors, the greater their variety, and the more interconnected they are, the more complex the environment. 

Nonlinearity according to the “expert” view is:

N = Nonlinear – In this period, we live in a world whose events seem disconnected and disproportionate. Without a well-defined and standardized structure, it is not possible to make structured organizations. Therefore, detailed, long-term planning may no longer make sense.

First, complexity is nonlinear and nonlinearity is viewed from another perspective. Contemporary “experts” fail to understand the emergence as a necessary consequence of both complexity and nonlinearity. The literature on emergence is quite extensive, and as the title of the book, The Re-Emergence of Emergence, says, this concept had significantly evolved from when it emerged. When I wrote the book How things emerge, Kako stvari vznikajo, I was not aware of the profound significance of this concept. It emerged in me as a consequence of kitchen logic. I have read some Kaufmann up to that point in 2008, but the book is a sincere and, for that reason, somewhat naive phenomenological exploration of the emergence. The book appeared even craziest as I was at that time.

What should be said for the purpose of the criticism of VUCA and BANI is that they appear as a kind of a challenge that changes over time because they do not understand what complexity and nonlinearity stand for. While it is true that the more factors and the greater their variety come as a necessary part of the complexity, it is a nonlinearity that changes from complicated to complex. Boeing 747 is highly complicated, but it is not complex. Nothing unexpected emerges from its complications. Accidents as involuntary events are emergencies of human faults and complexity.

Note: Forgive me for the mistake in my previous paragraph. Pure Darwinists like Darwin, Dawkins and Dennett, for instance, prove to a certain degree that in some particular circumstances, complications evolve into complex entities, that matter evolves into mind. But this high-level evolutionary biology and philosophy do not matter for the purpose of this post. What matters is that everything human is complex and not complicated. Life is complex, nonlinear and produces emergencies, something that cannot be deduced from the past by definition. Complexity and nonlinearity are nothing new. On the contrary, almost all cultures and religions but Western understood and to a certain degree, still understand complexity. More precisely, even if some members cannot explain complexity, they certainly live it.

This period seems “disconnected” only to those that live in their linearity. Complexity definitely appears disconnected to those that cannot apprehend nonlinearity. And about long-term planning, I have written so many times, also in Brandlife, that I feel sorry for those who still do not understand how brands arrange short-term and long-term perspectives; how humans and animals coordinate them without any education. On the contrary, it seems that contemporary Western education kills the natural sense of a human being about complexity and sustainability.

Andrej Drapal