Uncertainty isn’t the only certainty, clichés are as well

One thing I think we can all agree on is that in the last few months there has been a glut of articles trying to help us understand how Covid will change the world of recruitment, talent acquisition and work in general.  

They’re nearly all well meaning and by and large are sensible to varying degrees but every now and then there’s a humdinger that deserves a special prize for its utter nonsense.

Here’s one that I thought worth sharing. 

It was a piece in the Times from someone who works for a technology platform. It said ‘Decades-old dynamics have crumbled practically overnight, change is the “new normal” and the only certainty is uncertainty.’

Watch the vlog here:

So tell me, when was anything ever certain and when was change ever not normal – certainly not in our lifetimes. Utter nonsense. It actually reminds me of that other particularly infuriating phrase used primarily by consultants trying to sell you stuff – VUCA.

Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – essentially four words all meaning the same thing. I ask again, when was the world not VUCA? If you’re still not sure if you agree, let’s take a gallop through the last 100 years.

At the start of the 1920’s the world was dealing with a pandemic that left up to 50 million people dead, but which was also known as the roaring 20’s and in Britain we finally achieved universal suffrage.

In the 30’s we had the great depression, the rise of fascism leading inexorably to the 1940’s which, I think most of us would agree, were pretty VUCA. Although maybe not that ambiguous, so the 40’s were just VUC. As in VUC’d up.

The 50’s gave us the first military action of the cold war as well as massive proliferation of nuclear arms and the space race.

In the 60’s , as well as the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of JFK we had immense social change with the rise of feminism and the civil rights movements and, of course, a man on the moon. 

The 70’s, often called the worst decade ever (although not musically) gave as the oil crisis, blackouts and a three day week, the rise of modern terrorism and the invention of the mobile phone.

We were back facing nuclear Armageddon at the start of the 80’s, we had massive unemployment creating the gizzajob and get on your bike generation (of which I was one) all of which seemingly very quickly then morphed into the rise of the yuppie, and culminated with Black Monday and the subsequent very sharp recession.

Unless you lived in Rwanda or Yugoslavia, the 90’s were generally pretty decent and were bookended by the end of the cold war and the launch of the world wide web.

And then it kicks off again. The 2000s brought us 9/11, 7/7, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a massive increase in global economic migration but also one of humankinds more impressive achievements with more than 1 billion people being lifted out of poverty.

In that context, I’m not sure the 2010s, by merely bringing us the rise of social media, Brexit, Donald Trump and fake news, actually gets into the top 5 of VUCA decades. Although I do think things have got noisier.

So those of us of a slightly more mature vintage should all be pretty well used to lots of change and for those of us who operate in the world of work, we should recognize our responsibility to keep things in context, do our best to not over react but, at the same time acknowledge that at this point in time Covid presents us with more challenges than opportunities but that those opportunities will surely come.

If you’ve seen any of my previous video blogs, you’ll know this is the part where I tell you about our amazing Talent Acquisition benchmark programme but, to be honest, with this one I just wanted to suggest we all have a part to play in keeping a sense of perspective and try and avoid meaningless clichés.

Although, if you really do want to find out how it can help you improve your resourcing function, the link is https://benchmark.talint.co.uk/

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