19 years ago, many of us had just had our worldviews changed forever. The coordinated attacks on 9/11 shook us to our core. A group of social scientist called “futurists” were not as surprised as the rest of us. They track trends and examine current realities, and try to give an idea about what the future will look like.
Futurist Bob Johansen, the US Army, and others use four words to describe our current and future world, and they use the acronym VUCA. Our world is now, and will increasingly become more:
Our VUCA world is increasingly Volatile: It is becoming more dramatic and unstable. Small actions create large consequences. Our world is increasingly Uncertain: We are no longer able to accurately predict the results of any actions or what we will be faced with next. Our world is increasingly Complex: Remember spontaneously meeting friends for dinner at a favorite restaurant? Now imagine how many steps it takes to get together with those same friends in this pandemic. Our world is increasingly Ambiguous: We don’t know “right” answers or “best” solutions. When will it be safe to go back to church? Can we make Christmas travel plans? Who knows?
In order to face our current reality and our future, we need to hone the attributes of:
To live well in a VUCA world, we need a certain type of Vision: We don’t need laser-focused vision, but rather a wide-angle softening of vision where we take in a much broader landscape of possibilities. To live well, we need Understanding: Understanding the hows and whys of what is happening in our world will take more effort. Also, being more understanding of others and ourselves will be crucial to us living with grace. To live well, we need a different sort of Clarity: We need to invest in getting clear about our values and goals, and be incredibly flexible and creative about how to live out these values and reach these goals. This brings us to the need for Agility: We need to get more and more light on our feet, able to turn on a dime, prepared for starting and stopping in-person events. We need to not overly invest in one way of doing things.
The reality of a VUCA world can be overwhelming: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. As I try to imagine myself living in the year 33AD in Israel, I realize Jesus and the disciples were living in a VUCA world, too. Invite Jesus to be your companion as you practice the skills of Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility to face the day.