When a member of an audience he was speaking to asked physicist and NASA consultant Tom Campbell for some life advice, he said that one thing he considers important is to:
“Learn to live gracefully with uncertainty.”
He should know since he provided statistical analysis and answers for the American space agency when it needed to know what the odds were that another shuttle might explode in the wake of the Challenger disaster in 1986.
Learning to live gracefully with uncertainly is also excellent advice for entrepreneurs because we are living in times of unprecedented volatility and change in the global business climate. The latter was especially exacerbated by the wholly unpredicted fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are a number of measures that entrepreneurs can adopt to reduce uncertainty in their business activities – while acknowledging that all of it can never be eliminated.
Build In Flexibility
The nature of uncertainty is that it requires decision-making in a situation of incomplete information. Thus, it’s important to be cognizant that there will always be unknowns. Building flexibility into decision-making processes can keep a company nimble and prepared to react. The very fact that one anticipates change makes one prepared for change.
Company leaders should be as transparent as possible with their management teams. Managers, in turn, should keep their employees informed about everything that is going on, including why a company is taking specific actions or approaches. Keeping people on the lower levels in the dark created a rigid workforce unable to react to change or understand why they need to do things differently all of a sudden. When they understand the situation, there is less pushback and resistance. That’s the definition of flexibility.
Ambiguity Can Be Good
It may seem counterintuitive, but a bit of fuzziness in a system also means it can be more pliable when it needs to be. Leaders should retain reusable strategies that can offer structure in chaotic environments. It’s a fast way to engineer clarity into missions that may seem to stray into periods of what seems like unfocused activity. Ambiguity is good as long as one knows how to navigate it and turn it into a positive.
Value-Based Decision Making
When a company leader underpins the decisions he or she makes with core values, it established a set of fundamental pillars or principles that remains stable and which clarify what one is certain about. Core values are more than popular corporate-speak buzz words. They are rocks one can anchor a business upon.