Is pursuing ambiguity a competitive business strategy?
We have been studying the affects that ambiguity has on leaders for two decades. The uncertainty that we all feel in ambiguous situations appears to be both a challenge and an opportunity. The ability to fearlessly grapple with ambiguity might be a trait that competitive businesses should seek.
The first of the eight “enablers” sought through our 360 assessment “Ambiguity Architect®” is described as “motivated by mysteries.” While the purpose of Ambiguity Architect is to determine a person’s ability to navigate uncertain situations, we find that many of the contributing traits of high rated participants to be those that are desired by scientists, research and development, inventors and entrepreneurs. If the business environment continues to grow in complexity and scale, and we have many reasons to believe that it will, are these roles that grapple with the unknown not increasingly important to leaders across many industries?
Our data suggests high performers can thrive in uncertain situations in which the ambiguity is not a choice nor desirable. We can only speculate much beyond this, but it is compelling to ask: can leaders learn to seek out uncertainty and ambiguity as a business strategy? Does skill at “being uncertain” become a positive motivator for creative solutions by lessening the severity of judgment for “dumb questions.” If we are operating in uncharted waters who is to say we’re on the wrong course? Perhaps there is a new mode or style of leadership that pursues uncertain situations because of these factors.