5 Ways to Come Out Ahead in Complex Situations

You aren’t doing much if you don’t grapple with uncertainty.

complex issues have many solutions

Complex issues have many solutions. Thinking otherwise closes minds.

Closed minds damage organizations and limit leaders.

Avoid the appeal of first suggestions.

“One solution” leaders:

  1. Elevate stress. If there is only one right solution, everything else is wrong.
  2. Increase defensiveness.
  3. Inspire adversarial relationships that end with winners and losers.
  4. Waste energy creating perfection. The pursuit of perfection is noble; waiting for perfection is sabotage.
  5. Make either/or decisions, when “and” serves better.

5 ways to come out ahead in complex situations:

The first sign of wisdom is the pursuit of wisdom.

Wise leaders deal with uncertainty by actively seeking alternatives.

#1. Acknowledge the tendency to fall into intellectual ditches.

Old patterns become habits. Habits become easy answers. Easy answers feel comfortable. 

New ideas always feel uncomfortable to ditch-dwelling leaders. If it feels safe, it’s not new. (“New” always transforms.)

#2. Practice transparent decision-making.

  1. Clarify goals.
  2. Explain purpose. The most important aspect of decision-making is to understand the purpose of the decision. What are you really trying to accomplish?
  3. Seek several alternatives. Design four options before making one important decision.

#3. Include new people. The answer to many challenges is “who” not “what”. New ideas emerge from new people.

Diversity enhances certainty.

#4. Create safe zones where making suggestions is honored, not punished or ridiculed.

  1. Say thank you when alternative are offered.
  2. Laugh about past mistakes. “Wow! I remember when we really screwed that up.”
  3. Explore how new ideas might work before quickly ruling them out.
  4. Say, “And, what else,” after suggestions are offered.

#5. Expect all team members to speak up.

Speak up or step down.

Beware of team members who speak after, not in, meetings. Where patterns of non-participation prevail, replace old teammates with new.

How might leaders come out ahead in complex situations?

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