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Dealing with Uncertainty and Complexity

April 14, 2020


Navigating Complexity and Uncertainty – I want it to be a sprint, but I dread it is going to be a marathon…

Uncertainty and lack of control are a double whammy

Uncertainty – on so many levels how will this unfold, personally, professionally, how long will be need to keep up our vigilance?  The nagging questions with no firm answers that keep being recycled in our minds, over and over again. 

Lack of Control – Okay, hands up, how many control freaks do we have in the crowd?  Most successful people have elements of control freakishness. In fact, even the best delegators revert to control freaks in times of uncertainty.  Some is warranted, some is not.

Complexity and Information Overload – In the swirling abundance of reports, blogs, new releases, press conferences, new models, new distancing dates, it’s almost too much.  So, what do we need to know, what do we need to act on, how do you decide what to do first?

Below are basic activities that you can immediately and easily use to start tackling the issues of uncertainty, lack of control and complexity/overload of information/choices

  • Prioritization – what are your true priorities now?  Spend a few minutes, by yourself or with your family and business team and decide what matters, what are your critical few things that you have to get right and make happen. Not 25, but 3-5 main themes of priorities. This will help you focus on the critical few and reduce the ‘noise’ of the overwhelming many.   
  • Control What you Can – probably right now it feels like there is more that we can’t control vs. what we can control.  Our routines, are upside down, we have to eat at home, and really how many times this week can we eat frozen pizza with canned vegetables? (Hopefully, you have something better at your house!)  I get it, kids at home, your now a teacher, playground lady, loved ones you can’t see, uncertainty about our jobs, now and in the future, retirement savings, next meal….This exercise is really a family project.  As we are all social distancing for at least another month, a new world order for the house is necessary.  Routines are great, it is many people’s efforts to ‘get normal’ as quickly as possible. We see safety in our routines, the new ones even right?  We feel a little sigh of relief and composure knowing ‘we have a plan’ and we feel relief as we are ‘in control again’. Ahhhhhhh, breathe in, breathe out….  So, what is the point here? Control what you can, and let go of the rest, conserve your mental prowess and energy, for things that you can control and that are priorities for you.
  • Lastly, this is almost too big unless you address the prioritization and control issues first.  Begin with the end in mind – this is creating the vision of how you want things to be in the future, what outcome do you want to have for yourself, family, business.  What does that vision look like? Make it flexible, but specific. Is it in alignment with your priorities? Is it in alignment with what you can control?   If you can know where you want to end up, guided by your priorities and resourcing it with what you can control, you have a really great chance at navigating through the unknown.

So, in summary –

  • Prioritize your critical few
  • Identify what you can control and work on that
  • Begin with the end in mind, to navigate the unknown with clarity and purpose, on a decision by decision basis.

Take care, be safe, chins up, shoulders back.  We’ll get through this, thinking that we can will insure our success. 

Thank you for your time!!

Martha Clarke
Fremont Consulting Group