In the last 20 years, we have experienced quite traumatic events, most notably the Covid-19 epidemic that we are experiencing today. We entered the new Millennium to predict that computers would create significant problems in the transition phase to 2000. The expected apocalypse occurred on September 11, 2001, although not in the Millennium's early days. After Islamist terrorists attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in New York, we were told that the world would never be the same anymore. The financial crisis caused by mortgage loans, which began in the United States in 2007, spread rapidly around the world and had such a significant impact that we began to talk about the end of capitalism.
The events, which were called the Arap Spring, began in 2010 when a Tunisian teenager burned himself. In 2011, the Syrian civil war broke out, and ISIS, taking advantage of the authority vacuum created by the Civil War, embarked on actions that shocked the world as it established dominance over a vast geography. And by 2021, we have been fighting the Covid-19 epidemic for a long time.
We have strange days where we often encounter dramatic events. A period of time in which the speed and scope of change cannot be controlled, we have difficulty understanding events, and we cannot predict. Many factors, such as epidemics, political uncertainty, fluctuations in the economy, blockchain revolution, and digital transformation, show that we are in the VUCA era. As a result of the end of the Cold War, the concept of VUCA, first introduced by the US military to describe the new era, became increasingly used to describe the conditions of our period. VUCA consists of the first letters of the words Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.
Let me briefly explain the components of VUCA;
Volatility: Can be defined as frequent and severe changes in the environment. Volatility requires rapid adaptation in the absence of predictive mechanisms formed by experience. The unstable climate leads to individuals who are rapidly adapting to change coming forward.
Uncertainty: Can be defined as an inability to predict the future. Uncertainty blurs decision-making capabilities, causing delays in strategic planning.
Complexity: Refers to the difficulty in analyzing the causality of situations that occur. When everything affects everything, it has become difficult to predict which factor triggers the other.
Ambiguity: Uncertainty in the environment creates difficulty in adequately interpreting events and data. In this context, it became difficult to make sense of the events that took place.
Artists give us clues about what will happen in the future thanks to their strong intuition. The film Strange Days, set just before 2000, seemed to foretell today's chaotic world. In the movie, Lenny Nero, a former cop, trades CDs that convey to the viewer what the recording artist feels during the recording. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, where the film takes place, there are non-stop street clashes between African-Americans and police and army troops. Along with the film's subject, the emotions it evokes also point to the world of today.
Today, experience is not enough to understand what is happening in the world. To survive, it is necessary to take reasonable risks, make quick decisions in an environment of uncertainty and adapt quickly to innovations. How are we going to live in this new era? Control, which was very important in the past, loses its importance. Many events are happening beyond our control, like Elon Musk's tweets, and we have to accept them. Leaders have ceased to be people who work to realize something and have become trying to manage change shaped by factors other than themselves. They need to be able to trust others and leave the initiative to them.
What I wrote above brought to my mind a game that we played in an education session years ago. In the game, a person stands in the middle, and his colleagues line up to form a ring around him. The person in the middle leaves himself backward, never bending his body. He has to trust that his friend will catch him, not let him fall to the ground. Accepting the change of classical thought patterns by the VUCA is not easy. Taking those suspicious new methods that can create new opportunities is quite difficult for individuals who cannot leave themselves backward.
To deal with volatility, it is necessary to be ready for what will happen if high volatility occurs and allocate the required resources in advance. The best way to deal with uncertainty is to invest in knowledge, learn constantly, and share what we know. In this way, it is possible to be aware of potential risks early.
No matter how talented and hardworking an individual is, it is impossible to know enough details about the whole picture. To overcome the problem of complexity, it is necessary to find experts of the subject of interest, trust them, listen to their advice, and give them the initiative. Ambiguity is not a problem that traditional approaches can overcome. Because there are many variables that we do not know, we cannot do precise planning. The best way to work in ambiguous situations is to do a large number of small experiments. Generalizing the concept tried according to the results obtained helps us overcome ambiguity.
I said we were going through strange days, and I referred to the movie Strange Days. Jim Morrison, a singer, and poet born in Los Angeles, has a song called Strange Days. Let's commemorate The Doors by featuring a part of the lyrics of Strange Days song.
Strange days have found us
And through their strange hours
We linger alone
As we run from the day
To a strange night of stone
I hope that spending these strange days in a state of cautious optimism would help.
Thanks for reading.