Feel Doubt — Welcome Ambiguity

for organizations


c.os.org.wonder.06

This Domain-Level Guide is designed to be used based on the Core Model. Please refer to the Feel Doubt — Welcome Ambiguity Core Practice before exploring this guide.

overview

Decisions drive organizations forward. When decisions are delayed indefinitely, the team is either stuck in place or randomly takes steps that do not align toward a consistent direction and a shared vision. At the same time, when decisions are premature, undebatable, or cannot be challenged and reconsidered, the impact on organizational Creativity could be devastating.

A creative organization must constantly balance the need to make decisions, set a clear path for the next steps, and being open to different opinions and perspectives. Feeling Doubt and Utilizing Ambiguity create opportunities for creative insights to emerge. Some of them will influence your decisions. But even if they don’t, they make the team open-minded and alert, so decisions can evolve and be changed dynamically.

guide

Invite Different Opinions Proactively

The human mind tends to favor the known and familiar. We are biased toward information we already know and opinions we already have. When making a decision, this tendency might make you miss opportunities by not seeing (or valuing) different options.

One way to overcome such a blind spot is to proactively invite more people to share their opinion before making a decision. The more diverse the group is, the more surprising and insightful the different views will be. Their implicit or explicit impact on the decision is guaranteed.

  • No matter how confident you are when making a decision, proactively invite other opinions and perspectives.
  • Invite people from different disciplines, domains, and teams to share their unique points of view. The farther they are from the original context of the challenge you are facing, the more surprising their perspectives are.
  • Genuinely consider the different perspectives before making a decision and after the decision has been made.
Let Different Options Sink In Before Making a Decision

Inviting Different Opinions is obviously a mandatory step if you wish to proactively create doubt. But to be effective and allow these opinions to influence your decision, you have to make space for the different perspectives to sink in.

Organizations often aim for quick decisions. The need for immediate response must be balanced with allowing time for the different perspectives to impact your view on the dilemma and the various decision paths.

  • Don’t rush into making a decision before coming up with different options.
  • Let the different options sink in. Let them make the dilemma, as opposed to the solution, clearer.
Invite Dilemma Where it is Not Apparent

When a dilemma is apparent and acknowledged, it is easier to Invite Different Opinions and let them sink in. Many decisions, however, are implicit. In these cases, we operate based on inertia, or we don’t even realize the existence of other options. Hence there is no explicit dilemma and no meaningful discussion.

Great opportunities lie in questioning the things we do by default. Turning these implicit decisions into explicit discussions will allow you to invite different views and options and potentially identify and pursue new opportunities.

  • Notice the situations you consider “no brainer” or “more of the same.”
  • Reflect on them and try to see a dilemma in them.
  • Consider different alternatives and their potential impact on the default mode of operation.
  • Experiment with some of them.

examples

Example 1

When facing a dilemma, no matter how small, record it and the various options. Record also your decision. If the decision has a long-lasting effect (for example, on how you operate), revisit the decision and proactively add new pieces of information or new perspectives. Invite other people to share their views and challenge the decision from time to time. Allow yourself to change the decision if you see an opportunity in it.

Example 2

Present dilemmas that are confined to the scope of your team to people outside of the group. Invite them into the discussion and ask them to share their perspective even if they are unfamiliar with all the details.

You can turn this practice into an organization-wide practice by always saving seats for “visitors” beyond the direct stakeholders of an activity.

further exploration


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