We navigate uncertainty and mitigate consequences by carefully considering the possible outcomes of our decisions before taking action. We become more comfortable with ambiguity and taking risks as we learn to appreciate our mistakes as learning opportunities that drive Principled Innovation.
Uncertainty is uncomfortable for many of us. But rather than ignoring it or pushing it away, what if we embrace it? This would mean considering what happened in the past, taking in new information and perspectives, and thinking about a range of possibilities and outcomes, both intended and unintended. By iterating and adjusting as we go, we can do our best to avoid undesired outcomes and forge ahead.
Reasoning and practice
Engage in reasoning and reflection with the following questions to immerse yourself in this practice:
- What strategies are you using to ensure you are pausing to respond thoughtfully to this idea, situation, person, etc.?
- Have you fully considered potential unintended consequences to the best of your ability?
- How are you responding to changes? Are you remaining open-minded and iterating based on experiences?
- Have you created an environment that encourages questioning and risk-taking?
- What support or resources do you need to overcome the obstacles or challenges you have encountered while addressing the problem?
- What would make failure okay? (Learning from the failure? Ruling out a possible solution to a problem? Building relationships that succeed even if the intended project doesn’t?)
- What are the risks of missed opportunities or the risks of inaction? How can you figure this into your decision-making?
- How have other individuals and organizations responded in similar situations? What was the result?
The activities and resources below were designed for individual and group development of the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to engage this practice.
This activity can be used individually or with a group to help us reconstruct our attitude towards failure. Reflect on and share your “favorite failure” from your past experiences using simple, yet powerful questions to draw out candid responses that can result in positive learning.
Time required: 30 minutes
Try this creative activity to spark thinking around different possibilities and outcomes. This activity is an engaging way to plan for the future and visualize hypothetical endpoints by crafting newspaper headlines and stories. Future headlines can help to clarify important aspects of your vision and goals when you are feeling stuck and uncertain by jump-starting ideas around possible next steps to achieve your desired outcome.
Time required: 30-60 minutes
This exercise is a great tool for getting stuck — and then getting unstuck. Recognizing what “stuck” feels like is a valuable skill when navigating uncertainty and trying to move forward. The feeling could be a sign that you’ve exhausted possibilities in your current way of thinking and it’s time to jump to a new one. This realization and ability is the foundation of many of our “aha” moments.
Time required: 15 minutes