The Uncertainty Mindset 2019-2020

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#36: Ready for the unexpected

vaughn2nd January 2021 at 3:03pm

This issue is about how an organization acts differently when it thinks of the future using the risk mindset compared to the uncertainty mindset—even when the situation it faces is exactly the same.

Using some cartoonishly oversimplified examples from the restaurant industry, I show how risk mindset leads an organization to plan for specific futures that are already imagined, and for which probabilities are already known, then take action based on those assumptions. This is obviously only appropriate in a vanishingly small number of real-world situations, no matter what economists want you to believe.

In contrast, having the uncertainty mindset means planning for the assumption that futures cannot be completely imagined in advance, and acting based on those assumptions. This seems much more realistic.

The uncertainty mindset is a kind of forcing function for making an organization act in ways that allow it to carry on as normal when the future turns out to be uncertain and therefore not completely knowable. Being ready for unexpected futures is likely to be increasingly important.

You can find it here: #36: Ready for the unexpected