Monday, August 31, 2009

3 ways of explaining how to manage uncertainty

3 ways of explaining how to manage uncertainty

Margaret Wheatley's way

Start something and see who notices it.
It's only after we initiate something in a system that we see the threads that connect. Usually, someone we don't even know suddenly appears, either outraged or helpfull. We didn't know there was any connection between us but their response makes the connection clear. Now that they've identified themselves, we need to develop a relationship with them.

Whatever you initiate, expect unintended consequences.
Every effort to change a system creates these, because we can't see the interactions ahead of time. One very visible example of unintended consequences is what happens every time humans try to change the natural ecology of a place. Fertilizer is introduced to farm fields without noticing how rain water connects fields to oceans. Over time, we have got bountifull crops but fewer fish. I know one think tank that created a “Museum of Unintended Consequences”. They wanted to notice all the impacts of any societal change effort. When we are willing to look at unintended consequences, they teach a great deal about how a system operates.

Reflect often.
The system reveals itself to us all the time. The problem is we seldom stop to notice what just happened. Without such reflection, we go blindly on our way, ignore the learnings, creating more unintended consequences and failing to achieve anything usefull. It's amazing to me how much we do but how little time we spend reflecting on what we just did.

Seek out different interpretations.
Run ideas by many different people, to see things through their unique perceptions. Everyone in a complex system has, at minimum, a slightly different interpretation. The more interpretations we gather, the easier it becomes to gain a sense of the whole.

Look for insights to emerge out of messiness.
Puzzling and messy situations often lead us to simplistic and stupid behaviours. Either we grab onto an easy answer or decide to take actions that have no clear rational. But confusion can create the condition for intuitions and insights to appear, often when we least expect them. If they appear, they usually can be trusted. In fact, it's common for many people to arrive at the same conclusion at the same time. In the Quaker tradition, this is called “a gathered meeting”. It's far better than struggling for false consensus.

Sense from:
Margaret Wheatley
Page 207 - 208
ISBN: 9781576754054

David Snowden's way

In complicated situations, sense, analyze and respond. Create panels of experts. In chaotic situations, act, sense and respond. Look for what works instead of seeking right answers.

Sense from:
A leader's framework for decision making
David Snowden & Mary Boone
Harvard Business Review 2007 Nov

Adam Kahane's way

Cross the river by feeling for stones
Deng Xiao Ping

Sense from:
Adam Kahane's presentation at Canada@150 9 Jun 2008 ( Part 3 of 3 )

I will be glad to hear your way of explaining how to manage uncertainty.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Who are badvocates?
Badvocates are people who passionately criticize or detract from companies, brands, products and services.

Why should you pay attention to badvocates?
They tell the World about bad experiences. When bad experiences grows, when customers search your company's name, the top results are bad experiences.

How to manage badvocates?

1. Be prepared
Establish processes to minimize threats.
Monitor comments about your company.
Leverage search engine optimization.
Establish employee guidelines for social media.
Register email addresses and “gripe” domain names.
Trademark your company name.

2. Defend yourself
Hire reputation managers.
Respond rapidly.
Disclose communications with badvocates.
Make the facts available.
Address myths head-on.
Enlist your fans.

3. Embrace dissatisfaction
Invite transparent dialogue.
Ask badvocates to “step outside” - host face-to-face events with senior executives.
Ask for ideas.
Solve problems together.
Respond thoughtfully.

4. Apologize
Admit when you’re wrong, hard as it is.
Don’t email or comment on a negative blog posting, pick up the phone.
Establish an advisory council of badvocates.

5. Don't Ignore

6. Inoculate
Identify your advocates.
Recruit your advocates.
Reward your advocates.

Weber Shandwick

I have 3 comments on how to manage badvocates:
  1. Don't ignore should be point 1.
  2. When talking to badvocates by phone instead of email or comment on a negative blog posting, don't forget to post that you will be doing so. Let blog readers know why the conversation stop.
  3. If I will to use 1 sentence to describe how I will manage badvocates if I were a company, it will be - be honest and kind.