From VUCA world to FRAGILE society

The «VUCA world» concept, which has its origins in the 1990s in the U.S. Army, became popular from 2001 on, following the September 11th terrorist attacks.

VUCA is an acronym that depicts the current world in which we live, a world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (http://ow.ly/ZTVJV).

The recent bomb attacks in Paris,Brussels and Nice have led me to reflect more deeply upon the current geo-political situation and on how I can do my bit to find solutions for the complex reality that is facing us..

In the present article, I have attempted to provide an in-depth analysis of some of the elements that constitute what I refer to as “Fragile Society ( «FRÁGIL» is an acronym based on the Spanish words for Fanaticism, Networks, Altruism, Globalization, Inequality and Freedom)” and which I believe enrich the VUCA focus and provide us with some new and interesting nuances.

Source: David Reyero.

Here are some data that illustrate the importance of such aspects in understanding the new world order.

1. Fanaticism
In 2014, worldwide, 32.658 people died as a result of terrorism, 80% more than in 2013 according to the index of Global Terrorism 2015 published by the Institute for Economics and Peace.(http://ow.ly/WktHi).

Furthermore, as we have seen with our own eyes, this “new terrorism” is more unpredictable than ever. Terrorist attacks have been carried out in several of the world’s most important cities and the authorities have been unable to prevent them, and indeed, on many occasions, the attacks were in the form of suicide bombings with religious motives, and this is clearly something which is very difficult to control.

Such a scenario is generating understandable fear and psychosis in the face of possible future attacks in different parts of the world, which makes the search for mediated solutions and effective law enforcement measures all the more difficult.

2. Networks
The emergence of Internet and social networks (more than 1,000 million users of Facebook and 300 million on Linkedin and Twitter) has made the world a veritable «global and interconnected town» in which individual citizens and associations gain the power to influence.

This also means, however, that the reputation of organizations are more fragile and less controllable through traditional mechanisms and creators of public opinion. The Arab Spring and the emergence of populist parties in several countries are just two examples of the power of social networks to transform the status quo with viral communication techniques.

However, in this world of excessive information it strikes me as strange that in the West there is generally so little Media interest or quality information relating to Asian and African culture and society beyond the specific events reported.

This is a particular aspect which I believe has not helped us to anticipate the latent conflicts brewing up in recent decades in various parts of the world and in particular in the Muslim context.

3. Altruism
Over 140 million people worldwide are voluntary workers
involved in social projects and this is a growing trend according to reports by the United Nations (http://ow.ly/WktMS)

This “nation of volunteers’ is already the 9th most significant worldwide with 140 million collaborators and is an excellent expression of the strength of civil society which well complements the social policies of public authorities and the social responsibility of companies.

Altruism is a virtue shared by all different kinds of people and often involves the practice of meditation and mindfulness as a source of personal happiness and a way to contribute to the improvement of their communities (http://ow.ly/ZU49M)

4. Globalization
Globalization defines the growing integration of economies and societies of the world
, especially through trade and financial flows, and has a strong impact on the evolution of societies and the standardization of cultural habits, especially in the West.

In this context, foreign investment has increased from 6.5% to 31.8% of the GDP since 1980 and foreign workers constitute almost 200 million people.

This unstoppable process has contradictory effects, as reported by renowned specialists and analyzed in interesting reports by the IESE (http://ow.ly/ZVqaq) and the Bertelsmann Foundation (http://ow.ly/4mNtLr) and quality of life has indeed been improved, albeit with some differences, in the context of both developed and emerging countries. http://ow.ly/4mNtLr

5. Inequality
Social inequality is on the increase worldwide,
as indicated by such diverse sources as Intermón (http://ow.ly/Wo0WS) and the International Monetary Fund (http://ow.ly/Wo1nF ).

For example, in the USA, the richest 1% of the population have gone from representing 32.8% to 48.1% of the total revenue in the period 1980-2012 and New York has become the city with the highest figures of homeless people in the First World with almost 60,000 (http://ow.ly/ZTZW3).

This economic inequity, together with inequality in terms of the enjoyment of natural resources and the challenge of jointly achieving a sustainable planet in which we can preserve our remaining natural wealth, causes an increase in anti-capitalist and anti-Western sentiments in many people from different parts of the world.

6. Freedom
Today’s world is also a place with increasing opportunities for the realization of personal and professional dreams and with fewer barriers due to people’s place of birth or economic status.

Evidence has multiplied showing that in the 21st century talent and entrepreneurship provide us with more opportunities than ever to flourish and make a living anywhere in the world. The emergence of start-ups and the collaborative economy, and new uses of technology as elements which allow people to move out of poverty, open up new horizons of hope and enhance the economic upswing and the spread of democracy in different countries.

Many countries (China, India, Israel, Mexico, Chile, Ireland…) attempt to emulate the success of Silicon Valley (http://ow.ly/Wo8gW). In Spain too, the startup ecosystem is improving with over 2,500 in 2015, an increase of 26% (http://ow.ly/Wo80X)

Conclusions
«This disturbing reality should lead us to reflect upon what share of responsibility is ours as a society», wrote my colleague Santi García, just a few weeks after the Paris terrorist attacks (http://ow.ly/UWzSg).

In my opinion, the solutions are neither fast nor easy, but it is indispensable that we should strengthen essential democratic elements and question our inertias and mindsets:

-Improving education at different levels to create responsible, socially supportive and constructively critical people who will be capable of advancing in a context of continuous uncertainty and learning.

-Increasing the global vision of 21st century world citizens in relation to cultural differences and religious sensitivities with a view to improving personal and international relations.

-Promoting a strong civil society in different countries of the world, with citizens who, both personally and collectively, assert not only their rights but also their obligations

-Firm resolve and international cooperation against terrorism by cutting off sources of funding, implicating moderate leaders in the path towards peace and seeking solutions by involving multiple national and regional sensitivities within the circles of power and avoiding imperialistic behaviour.

Promoting solidarity at different levels not focused upon a specific charity but with a view to reinforcing personal self-responsibility, the financial sustainability of countries and deterring terrorism or the populist conduct of disadvantaged groups.

These are just a few ideas that could help us to move towards what many of us yearn for: a more just, fraternal and freer world for both ourselves and our families.

David Reyero Trapiello

Senior HR Business Partner – Sanofi Iberia
e-mail: David.reyero@sanofi.com / Twitter: @davidreyero73 / Linkedin: es.linkedin.com/in/reyerodavid

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