Accelerating speed of change makes long-term plans less attainable but also less desirable - that ‘sometime in the future' ideal may turn out to be anything but ideal if you do get there, just ask the US shale industry when oil prices recently collapsed.
But as a leader you simply cannot wait for “a satisfying level of clarity” about where to go next “because you might never get it.” Instead, agile principles (crossing-over from the software development industry) are being adapted and adopted by other industries in an effort to act because of, not just in spite of, ambiguity:
Choosing to focus on your core skills to maximise short-term gain appears logical, but when the outside world is changing faster than you are then pitfalls open up all around. Rigid plans may provide direction, but are not a prescription for detailed action in a shifting world.
Rather than increasing and improving rules governing action which, like an beetle’s exoskeleton, provides protection from the shocks you know but also imposes limiting constraints (such as what do you do when you’re flipped over) consider heuristics (rules of thumb) instead. These act like a human skeleton, an enabling set of guides around which more flexible muscle and resilient tissue form to enable flexibility in action.
To the questions that keep CEOs awake at night the answers are all around in the natural sciences - it’s all about working with the way humans are, rather than the way we - and that classical economics and management theory - wish they were. You only have to look a bit harder to see them.
© Narrative Insights (2013-2018)
Part of the global Cognitive Edge & Cynefin Centre network
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble; it's what you think you know for sure that just ain't so"
(Attributed to Mark Twain)