What’s Enough Certainty?

Current Issue
read current issue of pease strategic edge
Previous Issue
read previous issues of pease strategic edge

November 2011

What’s Enough Certainty?
Back in July (“What Starts in Vagueness – Stays in Vagueness”) we discussed the #1 competency for leading in times of uncertainty – The Ability to Deliver Clarity. In September (“Creating More Certainty”), we continued the discussion about another key competency for leading in times of change and uncertainty – Creativity. It’s been a worthwhile and relevant discussion. But something hit me in the midst of this short series of discussions. The question, “What’s enough certainty?”

What if you were handed a magic wand? Not just any kind of magic wand, a certainty magic wand. With this magic wand you could simply wave it and you would be able to provide all kinds of certainty for yourself. Would you use this new tool to provide certainty as to your final numbers for 2011? Perhaps you already know those, so why not for 2012? Wouldn’t it be nice to know what goals to set and exactly what you needed to do? But why stop at 2012, you’ve got the magic wand cranking in high gear. Go to 2013, and beyond. Take it on out to retirement. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that there was 100% certainty around all your priorities and desired outcomes? Nothing needed, nothing wanted, nothing lacking. Ever again. Everything of importance in every aspect of your life is nailed down with total certainty. No doubt.

It would be difficult to push yourself away from this incredible feast at the table of certainty, wouldn’t it? Hard to resist the gluttonous helpings of certitude served up in so many flavorful and appealing ways. Yes, uncertainty is challenging to leaders and employees in organizations, but as you start to consider living life at the other end of the continuum something seems wrong.

A state of certainty doesn’t really require your leadership. Certainty doesn’t need your ability to deliver clarity. It’s already there – 10 miles of visibility and beyond. And creativity… for what? Everything’s defined. I was facilitating a team discussion similar to this one back in August. One leader stated that if we were able to create total certainty in our worlds, we might as well be “flipping hamburgers at a fast food joint.” We would have rendered our role/job highly scalable. The mystery and the challenge would be a thing of the past and likely, so to our value and usefulness.

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” -Voltaire

It’s an honor and a pleasure to be able to say again this year, “Many thanks for your friendship and your partnership.” Have a terrific Thanksgiving – such a special time of year (of this I am certain).


Receive usable observations, commentary, methods and research directly related to organizational and individual development by signing up to receive PSP’s bi-monthly e-mail communique, the Pease Strategic Edge