ECCO Internatoinal

BANI: A Concept For How Leaders See the World

Last month, we discussed how leaders are facing more “uncertainty” than ever. They are challenged by economic issues, retention issues and dispersed teams with polarized viewpoints. They are being required to look through a VUCA lens: volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

As one Forbes contributor Jeroen Kraaijenbrink explains, “There’s a new kid on the block: BANI. It says that the world today is Brittle, Anxious, Non-Linear and Incomprehensible.” To summarize this article:

American anthropologist, futurist and author Jamais Cascio created this concept because existing concepts such as VUCA are not adequately encompassing our quickly changing world. The new concept BANI was born. So what are leaders facing and feeling in a BANI world?

Let’s break it down.

B – BrittlE

The B represents the illusion of strength. Even though leaders, and our world may seem strong and secure, they are fragile, we are fragile, and our world is fragile. When we embrace the “brittle,” we let go of the illusion of strength. From an inclusive perspective, this is why we add Vulnerability as a critical leader skill.

A – Anxious

Anxiousness represents the illusion of control. We can identify with the feeling of some form of anxiety from time to time, whether we are feeling helpless or hopeless, confused, fearful, overwhelmed or worried.

When we consume so much material, media, content and news in a day our anxiety increases because we no longer feel in control. It’s just too much to digest. The “A” in BANI represents our realization that we are not in control, especially when so much is changing.

N – Non-linear

Non-linearity represents the illusion of predictability. Leaders face so many hurdles, challenges, detours and surprises.

Just imagine trying to accomplish one task as a leader. Trying to get your team rowing in the same direction is no easy feat. Trying to sell a product is challenging in our current economy. Trying to be inclusive may require taking more time and being more intentional.

The BANI concept is the idea that leaders are now aware of just how non-linear and unpredictable our world, our teams and our projects are.

I – Incomprehensible

Incomprehensible refers to the illusion of knowledge. Leaders realize that we can’t oversee everything, we can’t understand everything, and we don’t know why. This means we won’t always have the answers. For this reason, we have added Intellectual Humility as a critical inclusive leader skill.  

As Kraaijenbrink explains, BANI is a concept used to describe our difficulties working in, understanding and operating in our world, however it is truly a representation of us and how we see the world.

Read more of Forbes’ Jeroen Kraaijenbrink’s work here

Amy S. Tolbert, Ph.D., and Certified Speaking Professional is the founder and principal of ECCO International (Energizing Cultural Change in Organizations). She specializes in creating inclusive cultures through online courses, keynote presentations, and facilitated workshops and training. She is the author of Reversing the Ostrich Approach to Diversity: Pulling Your Head Out of the Sand.


Should Diversity Training Be Illegal?

Are Your Hiring Practices Really Inclusive?

How Do Unconscious Biases Really Work? Neuroscientists Have the Answer

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *