This is part six of a six part series.
“Not even God himself could sink this ship.” -Employee of White Star Line, in the launch of the TitanicMay 31, 1911
We all know how that turned out.
This is the final article in a six-part series on navigating uncertainty in business, health care, and higher education. It seemed fitting to close this series with a quote from someone who refused to even consider the potential dangers ahead. This employee represented many of the opinions of the day: the Titanic’s owners, the press, and others claimed that the ship was “practically indestructible.
But what does this have to do with uncertainty or inclusion? Everything.
This series is about navigating uncertainty, and the only way to do that is to break free from the limited thinking of the past. But it can seem impossible to break free when we’re surrounded by those who refuse to see the iceberg we’re trying to avoid. Our organizations are filled with people whose false sense of security – “I’ve been here longer than you, I know what I’m doing” – keep them from accepting and prepare for an uncertain future.
The articles in this series feature a mix of written content and short videos by individuals from all industries:
In this article, I will explore a way to methodically remove the deeply embedded barriers that make it difficult to create a culture that not only accepts uncertainty, but prepares for it through inclusion and individuality.
These are the insights from the closing session of the fourth annual Leadership in the Age of Personalization Summit, which took place in October at Clemson University’s Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business.
We need an inclusive mindset that can handle uncertainty
First I want to review a quote I used in the first part of this series: “The ultimate form of preparation is not planning for a specific scenario, but a mindset that can handle uncertainty.” — James Clear, author and entrepreneur, from his 3-2-1 Newsletter
The consensus at the end of the summit was that there are specific things we can do to build that kind of mindset. When there is uncertainty, we must be flexible and open to new ideas, willing to act even when we don’t know the outcome, and willing to move when those actions are not bringing us the results we want.
This kind of flexibility can be learned if we identify what it looks like, name some behaviors and actions that make it a reality, and then intentionally put those behaviors and actions into practice.
Watch this short video to learn five goals we can actively pursue to help ourselves and those we lead prepare to navigate the uncertainty that lies ahead.
Our environments often work against diversity and inclusion
Navigating uncertainty requires freeing people to be all they can be – freeing people to reach their full capacity, to be seen in their full humanity and dignity. And to do this within and across large organizations.
People need this. You need this if you want your team or organization to succeed. This isn’t just a feel-good vision: it’s essential.
But here’s why it’s so hard to achieve: because we’ve created working and learning environments that work against this level of unfolding potential. We are still using a status quo that was created decades ago, when literally everything was different.
Consider this: Titanic lived up to the standards of its time. Much has been made of the fact that the ship had almost no lifeboats on board to accommodate the 2,228 passengers and crew. But the Titanic actually carried more boats than required for a ship of her tonnage. It has exceeded the standard. But the standard itself failed.
The playbook for navigating uncertainty is about shifting our organizations to loosen standards that have become irrelevant and honor people’s individuality so they can have and pursue new ideas. Rigid standards do not allow for experimentation, innovation and customized methods for achieving our common goals. Rigid standards hold people back and, as a result, hold our organizations back. Rigid standards don’t allow us to navigate—they keep us on a path, even when all signs tell us that the path is wrong and won’t lead us to our desired destination.
This series of articles is about two things:
- Opening people’s eyes to this need for unfolding individuality and the obstacles in our way.
- Giving you tools to overcome these obstacles.
We need a systematic approach to dismantle standards that no longer work and create space for people to free themselves and those they lead and work with. This is the only way to prepare ourselves and our organizations to overcome the uncertainty that is sure to come.