The Uncertainty Mindset 2019-2020

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#34: The difficulties of not-knowing

vaughn2nd January 2021 at 2:54pm

This issue articulates and unpacks some of the meta-questions floating about in my book, The Uncertainty Mindset: Innovation Insights from the Frontiers of Food:

  1. Level 1: What do teams do to be continually innovative? At Level 1, the book gives some solutions to innovation problems: practical ways to hire, set goals for, and motivate people doing innovation work. These solutions sound pretty out there, because they don’t sound anything like what conventional management wisdom would prescribe. If my logic holds, that’s how they should be.
  2. Level 0: What is the general principle connecting these unusual ways of working innovatively? At Level 0, the book explains what the uncertainty mindset is and how it makes organizations take the actions described above and thus makes them better at innovating and adapting. My basic argument is that organizations should adopt the uncertainty mindset if they want to become innovative.
  3. Level -1: Where else is the uncertainty mindset relevant? At Level -1, the book argues that the uncertainty mindset is not just relevant for innovation teams—it is a way of thinking and seeing the world that is appropriate to situations where the future is unknown and at least partly unknowable, and where the work to be done is the work of uncertainty.

The uncertainty mindset is relevant is innovation work, but people, teams, and organizations face many other uncertain situations. In 2020, coronavirus turned out to be one such uncertain situation. In the UK and the US (and too many other countries) it rapidly became clear that people and governments were acting using a risk mindset which, bluntly, is a totally inappropriate way of thinking about and acting in an uncertain situation.

You can find it here: #34: The difficulties of not-knowing