The term VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) has become the hallmark of this century, ushered in by Web 2.0 technology through smartphones, social media platforms and disruptive e-commerce business. Covid 19 stalled and froze us, compelling us to adopt new ways of living, forcing us to meet our vulnerabilities. Its deep impact is now hustling the AI age, which will precipitate technology, business and lifestyle disruptions even more. We barely have the sense of the perpetual shift to the automated world, which will bring exigencies about competency upskilling and job security, as we face direct impact.
Having lived with systems that have shaped us for processes, order and predictability, we find ourselves ‘fragile’ when we deal with significant unpredictability. We are prone to faltering, breakdowns and failures. So, how will we face such VUCA 2.0 that the AI age portends ? Let's take an exemplified look at the impact on entrepreneurship.
In the past two decades, technology powered e-commerce and disruptive business models, venture capitalists and engineers with their technical prowess became the fulcrum of the exponential rise of the start-up ecosystem. Rapid penetration into markets, even at the expense of stable sustainability, building technology applications, and getting funding boosts became the critical path for success. However, with the onset of the AI age, technology now spawns multiple tools for faster market readiness, algorithms are replacing analytical skills, and legacy business is rapidly automating to fend off disruptive business.
Availability of quicker cheaper technologies and AI algorithms will bring in more players with newer models. Quick mover disruptive market penetration will begin to dry up. There will be more trial and error, making mistakes faster, and failing faster. With business volatility going up, it will no longer be possible to expand purely on investor funds, sustaining business models will have to be proved. These factors make entrepreneurial success more unpredictable and fragile, going forward.
Learning life skills
Naseem Taleb says, the best we can do to face volatile times is become Antifragile. We have to build resilience to withstand change, and boost our responsive ability to adapt quickly. However, when our past has equipped us mainly in cognitive and analytical skills, this is easier said than done. Entrepreneurs are being called upon to equip themselves with life-skills.
Life-skills is the umbrella term that encompasses being self-empowered and building anti-fragility through mental resilience and responsive agility. Biologically, when we stretch our muscles, minds, neurons, we acquire greater functionality and responsive traits. In the same vein, we need to take up practices that make us emotionally resilient and responsive to challenges that life throws at us, in our journeys.
A mentally resilient entrepreneur will showcase a high emotional quotient, a sense of sustained purpose, enduring ability to weather failures, keeping patience for results, and being a bedrock of support for motivating and carrying teams together. This in turn requires persistent mental clarity and well-being. Practices of self-awareness, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and regular rejuvenation activities will become crucial to cultivate mental resilience. Nurturing right-brained faculties of introspection, art and intuition, are necessary catalysts to develop responsive agility to correct mistakes quickly, and respond to challenges with agility.
Sustaining success for the new AI age will mean weaving technical skills together with mental resilience, wellness and a deep sense of purpose. These call for a high level of self-awareness and self-management to become self-empowered and atmanirbhar .
The writer is Founder CEO and Emergent Human Design Coach at ConsciousLeap, and author of ‘Jasmine Builds on Shifting Sands’