Dealing with uncertainty

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Often businesses try to make and communicate growth projections by taking into account as many factors as possible that may have an influence. Frequently a large amount of the time spent on managing investor relations is about sifting through discrepancies between projections and real numbers...

In the market a premium seems to be placed on predictability, on ignoring uncertainty. The management of an organisation may come under undue pressure and in turn this may promote behaviour that in the end undermines the brand and reputation of the organisation.

Would it be possible to turn uncertainty from a key liability into a key asset towards creating future success? Fortunately, it is possible to deal with reality, with the fact that influences on ones business are nearly limitless and that the business environment is continually in flux. Scenario thinking may just be part of the answer.

The degree of uncertainty inherent in human systems drives scenario thinking. A set of scenarios usually describes a range of long-term futures covering the dynamic interplay between what could plausibly happen in the immediate business environment, inside the organisation and in society.

The dynamic interplay can be quantitatively modelled and described qualitatively with a storyline. A narrative makes for easier communication of possible implications: here is a plausible future world that incorporates many aspects unlike the present. What are your options?

You can use the uncertainty inherent in human systems to influence their business environment. Sometimes it is possible to facilitate a particular potential future to come about. No one can control destiny, just as no one can predict it. However, understanding uncertainties makes it actionable. You give yourself the possibility to at least to some extent influence those futures you prefer.