There was a time, I am told, when before starting a programme or initiative within the company, you made sure that you had all information, all buy in, all processes mapped, all planning in place, all project management ready to go, most eventualities worked out, a Plan B, and C, and full ‘stakeholder management’ sorted. And then you went off.
I have not seen one of these for a while. Today we go with imperfect data, good enough planning, some systems support, key stakeholders on board (but sometimes only a minority of them), not all eventualities looked at and not Plan B.
Which one is better? The rational me, and probably you, says the former, of course, but it is very unrealistic. The pace of events, attention span of senior management, competing initiatives, and perhaps a (healthy) experimental attempt to, say, ‘change things now’, all contain a high dose of uncertainty and ambiguity. Those two, uncertainty and ambiguity, drive some people nuts.
But the navigation in ambiguity and the embracing of a dose of uncertainty are key skills today, not teachable in any business school.
Interestingly enough, many people who rationally, and in public, declare their embracing of uncertainty and ambiguity as a desired thing, as a something to be welcome, ask lots and lots of questions geared towards fixing ambiguity and decrease uncertainty. You can’t have it boy ways.
We ask senior management to ‘let it go’ but people below hang on their toys unashamedly. As said of ‘change’, let it go is great, you go first’.
Partial, imperfect, not even good enough world, is often the real life territory of the organization. The only method to learn to let go is to let go. The only method to navigate ambiguity and uncertainty is keep going. Trust in others would also be a nice oil for the machine.
People in the ‘change industry’ tend to talk about ‘state of readiness’ as something that does exist, should exist, need to be crafted. But ‘readiness’ is a red herring. Evolutions, revolutions, social movements and people mobilizations at a scale were probably ‘ready’ for a long time before all went off of for real. And some went off with lots of people not ready.
To succeed in an imperfect, partial data, ambiguous, not fully supported by all leaders, question mark rich state, there is only one strategy: go, go, go.