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The Gooroo Blog

Realtimethinking, Trump, Turbulence and VUCA


Dr. Colin Benjamin OAM FAICD MAASW, an internationally-recognised Australian polymath and futurist, is the author of ColourGrid®. Based on 40 years of advanced neuroscience research, Gooroo ColourGrid® helps us understand how we make up our minds. As the Scientific Advisor and Global Futurist at Gooroo, Dr. Benjamin is working to integrate the ColourGrid® toolkit into Gooroo technology.

As the world watches “adults” engaged in “win-lose” battles over immigration, sovereign borders and national security for their nations, we have a perfect storm that demonstrates a global political refrain on three continents – the rise in level of turbulence and VUCA.

Looking at the US approach to reporting of “Trump’s Shutdown” through the alternative realities of Sky News and CNN coverage, we have the opportunity to consider the differences between fast and slow thinking, tactics and strategy, and the difference between approaches to business and political decision making that have become a battle for the mind under System 1 and System 2 thinking to address turbulence and VUCA

The Nobel Prize winning psychologist, Danny Kahneman, released an excellent book entitled Thinking, Fast and Slow. The key theme of the book is that the human mind has two distinct systems of thought – System 1 and System 2. The main takeaway from Kahneman’s life work is that System 2 can be “lazy”, allowing System 1 to lead us to irrational conclusions. Realtimethinking combines the best of both systems and encourages collaboration and effective communication.

System 1 is fast, reflexive, intuitive and automatic. It is the primitive part of thinking that evolved to allow us to survive in a dangerous world. It is essential for rapid assessment and reaction to threatening situations.

System 2 is slow, rational and deliberative. It is the part of our thinking that we can consciously “observe” and is used for analysis, logical reasoning and deliberate calculations. System 2 can sometimes act as rational governor, override judgements or decisions made by System 1

Dr Roberta Satow, Ph.D.  a New York based psychoanalyst, speaker and author of Doing the Right Thing points out that whenever someone asks President Trump a question he does not like or corrects one of his factual errors, or says “no” to him, he is at risk of a temper tantrum.

During the televised meeting with Congressional leaders there was no mistaking the President’s gesticulating and red-faced temper tantrum when Nancy Pelosi said “ NO” to his desire for a win on his wall.  This is a clear case of System 1 emotional responses to volatility, uncertainty, complexity and the ambiguity associated with the concepts of border security.

Donald Trump, speaking at the Southern Border of the United States provides a clear case of System 2 thinking, saying that he did not thump the table, quietly and politely left the meeting when he found that it was easier to negotiate with the Chinese government than with the leaders of Congress.

In a nutshell, approaching tactics and strategy by considering context and commitments determined on a foundation of Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurism (ICE) combines ideas being incubated and further investigated — leading to information constructed as insights infused into an Advanced Relational Meaning System (ARMS), which combines experience, expertise and engagement that empowers the inherent potential of VUCA and the management of turbulence..

VUCA is an acronym developed by the U.S. military after the collapse of the Soviet Union to describe a multi-polar world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous impacting upon understandings, judgements and responses.

Turbulence is a measure of the observed capacity to identify disruptions in any decision environment that requires an executive agency to identify, interact and intrude into emerging levels of any VUCA environment.

Volatility reflects the speed and turbulence of change. The challenge is unexpected or unstable and may be of unspecified duration and requires Insight and Infusion of energy, space and time to generate emerging opportunities.

Uncertainty means that outcomes, even from familiar actions, are less predictable. Cause and effect relationships do not provide Intelligence and Information about likely consequences of changes and choices..

Complexity indicates the vastness of interdependencies in globally connected economies and societies. The content and context frame requires the Investigation and Interconnection between parts and variables.

Ambiguity conveys the multitude of options and potential dependent relations inherent in change and choice. Engagement requires Incubation and Interventions responding to probable. possible and potential future directions or determinations

Understanding the frustrations facing President Trump demands a tolerance for failure, willingness to experiment, psychological safety, highly collaborative, and non-hierarchical allocation of scarce Relationships, Resources, Information and Decision-making powers.

Research supports the idea that these elements of change and choice represent the realtimethinking© combining the best of System 1 and System 2 capacity associated with strategic thinking and strategic management required for more and better decisions that are measured in the Gooroo ColourGrid®.

Gooroo transforms the way people, organisations and communities make decisions about their future. For more information, head to

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