The World is Super-CAFFEINATED

Saturday Morning Caffeinated Bliss

A Double Shot of Context

Pairing two events from the last week here:

  • an “all-hands on deck” Cygnus Sprints meeting where we excitedly gathered around the Zoom drum circle and codified what array of problems our new consulting and advisory venture aimed at disrupting and solving
  • Edition #32 of our Grey Swan Craft-Building Series on Futures Thinking where we peered behind the curtain and asked why organizations and leaders seem unprepared for the future headwinds, tailwinds and sidewinds that confront them

VUCA — Hey, It’s A Crazy World Out There

In a managerial world of jargon rich lingo, the acronym VUCA has had some real staying power. The term was first coined in 1987 by the late leadership scholar Warren Bennis and was useful in describing situations or conditions difficult to analyze, respond to or plan for (kinda similar to the etymology of our name Grey Swans).

  • something that was more expansive, recognizing the new value, gaps, drivers, multiple practices and realities of 2022+
  • something that was more balanced & positive, that the future doesn’t carry with it so much stress and gloom
  • something that was more active than passive (and not to be used as a crutch) that recognizes the future just doesn’t get done to us but we can take agency of this future
  • something that was more flexible in how we think and act with less tension and more freedom to deal with acceptable levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity vs. trying to wrestle them to the ground and reduce them to zero

BANI — A Post-Pandemic VUCA?

Recently, Jamais Cascio presented an updated framework for understanding the future unknowns called BANI. Cascio’s perspective was that VUCA wasn’t prospective or future looking enough, and didn’t acknowledge well enough the incomprehensible uncertainties of the future.

  • It has such a negative valence, it you are in the leadership and belief business, those are some pretty heavy stressful veils of grey to get past in order to get to something that then looks like hope.
  • secondly, it denies the balance and possibility that in a lot of areas of the world, we are making progress and we are able to tap into proven ways to better facilitate and make sense of the world than even five years ago.
  • BANI contains a narrative that everything is fragile and that we should assume there isn’t much permanence to solutions, almost acknowledging a permanent state of unsettlement. That’s a big gut punch and perhaps a futurist’s dream state but permanent disruption is chaos and likely not true. Take COVID for example. We know based on even the most recent pandemic’s trajectory, the volume of deaths, supply chain disruption and business discontinuity could have been so much greater, but because of beliefs, values and technologies that existed before the pandemic and employed now (e.g. SARs vaccine development, telehealth, Zoom, remote work, AI-based agility), we were able to mitigate its worst effects. All is not lost.
  • it is incomplete, at least for a practitioner, it may identify the problems well but it kinda just leaves them there to either grieve, ignore or throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. We know at the Grey Swan Guild, rooted in our very descriptor, things are never that black and white and that you can actively employ a roster & pedagogy of thinking and action to work with realities vs. saying something is hopeless or tearing it all up.

CAFFEINATED — Making Sense of our Mad, Wonderful, Chaotic, World

It all comes back to coffee again…some inspired person once said ‘good ideas begin with insight, great ideas starts with coffee’.

Complexity — aggregated cellphone traffic from across the United States and found patterns (MIT)
Ambiguity — The extinction of species — the 120 species and different impact of 10 different threat categories
Faster — Global GDP por Capita ,(Visual Capitalist)
Fragmentation — Marketing Technology Solutions over the last decade (Chief Martec)
Erraticness — the World Uncertainty Index had been indexing up for decades (The Economist)
Interconnectedness — the relatedness of French financial institutions (Eiopa)
Need —ESG Funds are on the rise (Morningstar)
Anxiety — Investor anxiety about the marketplace — 100 is neutral anxiety (Investopedia)
  • Memory — a computer chip with 2000 transistors had cost $1,000 back in 1970, now it costs $0.02.
  • Adoption — 4.95 billion people are now online, the incidence of global internet adoption expects to exceed 62% in 2022, doubling since 2013 and still growing 4% annually.
  • Data — 90% of data has been generated within the last 2 years.
  • AI: data center spending on AI processors will grow by over 4x by 2025, forecasted to hit $90 billion.
  • Devices — 12.2 billion devices now exist online and will grow to over 27 billion by 2025.
  • Time Spent Online: the average user spends 6 hours, 57 minutes online every day or over 12 trillion hours.
  • Internet Speed — download mobile and fixed median global speeds are 29 mBps and 58 mBps — which are more than adequate to stream movies; leading edge speed was about 1mBps back in early 2000s
Tech Adoption — Financial Impact of Technology (Media Peanut)
Exponentiality — the cost to push a kilogram of payload into space (Future Timeline)
Disruption — Canadian and US Disruption Barometer has been red flagging for the last three years (Ipsos)

The Ying and Yang of a Caffeinated World

Unlike other frameworks that describe the world, all of these CAFFEINATED forces are not summarily good or bad. They truly operate in the shades of grey (or gray if you prefer). The two schools presented earlier, VUCA and BANI, both approach the mercurial state of the world with jaded lenses. VUCA tries to control the tides of change like nailing jello to a wall. And we know how well that works. BANI throws up its hands and says everything that came before is bad, let’s tear it up. That seems grossly-inefficient and wasteful.

What’s Next:

a) Join:

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Grey Swan Guild

Grey Swan Guild

Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges & Next Grey Swans — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢