See opportunity in uncertainty

Veteran Australian journalist Paul Kelly was writing about political upheaval when he published The End of Certainty in 1994. Nearly two decades later, we still cling to certainty, regardless of how it affects our decision-making in the face of growing complexity. “It is typically more important for us to feel right, than to be right — a difference that didn’t matter much in the lives of our ancestors, but now matters a lot,” writes Canadian author and former executive, Ted Cadsby. The tension of not knowing gears us to figure things out, he says, but it also triggers a “lockdown” of our minds. Far better to adopt a mindset of “provisional truth”, seeing explanations as hypotheses always subject to replacement based on new information or different ways of structuring it. Inflexible thinking in response to uncertainty – or worse, inaction – may have huge opportunity costs, adds innovation expert, Rosabeth Moss Kanter. “Perfect clarity is not always possible, and leaders are not always in control of events,” she says. Among her tips for managing under uncertainty: brainstorm for ideas. “Since uncertainty leads to rampant gossip and speculation anyway, it can be a good time to harness imagination toward productive ends,” she says.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *