I used to think I could create certainty. At the time, I was as a Project Manager. I would develop schedules and plans with a significant amount of detail. I put a lot of effort into getting the plans right.
The accuracy of a plan is inversely proportional to the amount of detail in the plan.
Truthfully, I was providing the illusion of certainty. I was working in software development, which is a creative process. It is impossible to predict with certainty what it will take to deliver valuable software.
I cannot begin to imagine the number of hours I put into planning over the years. This busyness kept me from the one activity that would have created even better outcome — leading.
Despite all of this effort, I could never achieve the level of certainty I thought I was providing.
This illusion of certainty is rampant in many companies. Reinforcing this illusion of certainty is comprehensive documents, auditing, review processes and so much more.
Leading with ambiguity
Ambiguity is “the quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness.”
No matter how simple something might seem, there is always more than one way to look at what is going on. Leaders make room for more than one interpretation, by making it safe and expected for everyone to bring forward their ideas.
Ambiguity can leave a leader feeling vulnerable. Stop trying to create certainty in the face of ambiguity. Instead, lead through the ambiguity by allowing for more than one way to look at the problem.
The people you lead have lots of great ideas. Isn’t that why you hired them?
You’ve got this.