This is the sixth part of a six-part series.
“Even God himself couldn’t sink this ship.” –White Star Line employee, Titanic launchedMay 31, 1911
We all know how it turned out.
This is the last in a six-part series on coping with uncertainty in business, healthcare, and higher education. It seems fitting to end the series with the words of a man who refuses to even consider possible dangers ahead. The employee represented many views at the time: Titanic’s owners, the media and others claimed the ship was “almost unsinkable”
But what does this have to do with uncertainty or inclusion? everything.
This series has always been about navigating uncertainty, and the only way to do that is to free ourselves from the limited minds of the past. But when we are surrounded by people who refuse to see the iceberg we are trying to avoid, we may feel unable to free ourselves. Our organizations are full of people with a false sense of certainty — “I’ve been here longer than you and I know what I’m doing” – prevent them from acknowledging and preparing for an uncertain future.
This series of articles is a blend of written content and short videos from individuals from various industries:
In this article, I explore a way to methodically remove the deep-seated barriers that make it challenging to create a culture that not only acknowledges uncertainty but prepares for it through inclusion and individuality.
Those were the insights from the closing session of the fourth annual Leadership Summit in the Personalized Age, held at Clemson University’s Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business in October.
We need an inclusive mindset to deal with uncertainty
First, I want to revisit a sentence I used in the first part of this series: “The ultimate form of preparedness is not planning for a particular situation, but the state of mind that can handle uncertainty.” —James Clear, author and entrepreneur, from his 3-2-1 newsletter
The consensus at the conclusion of the summit was that there are some concrete things we can do to build that mindset. When there is uncertainty, we need to be agile and open to new ideas, be willing to take action even when we don’t know the outcome, and be ready when those actions don’t get us the results we want Prepare for adjustment.
This flexibility can be learned if we identify what it looks like, name the behaviors and actions that make it what it is, and then purposefully put those behaviors and actions into practice.
Watch this short video to learn five goals we can actively pursue to help prepare ourselves and those we lead to navigate future uncertainties.
Our environment is often not conducive to diversity and inclusion
Navigating uncertainty requires setting people free to do all they can—to be seen to the best of their abilities and to be seen with their full humanity and dignity. And do it both within and across large organizations.
People need this. This is what you need if you want your team or organization to be successful. It’s not just a feel-good vision: it matters.
But here’s why it’s so hard to achieve: because we’ve created work and study environments to counteract this level of unleashing potential. We’re still using the status quo that was designed decades ago, when everything was different.
Consider this: The Titanic and the standards of its era. Many believed that the ship did not have enough lifeboats to accommodate the 2,228 passengers and crew. But the Titanic actually carried more ships than would be required for a ship of the same size. It goes above and beyond. But the standard itself falls short.
The way to deal with uncertainty is to change our organizations, relax standards that have become irrelevant, and respect people’s individuality so they can have and pursue new ideas. Strict standards do not allow for experimentation, innovation and individualized approaches to achieve our common goals. Rigid standards hold back people and thus hold back our organisation. Strict standards don’t allow us to navigate – they keep us on a path even when all the signs tell us it’s the wrong path and won’t get us where we want to go.
This series of articles discusses two things:
- Letting people see this need to unleash individuality and the obstacles that stand in our way.
- Gives you the tools to overcome these obstacles.
We need a systematic approach to dismantling standards that are no longer valid and creating spaces for people to unleash themselves and those they lead and work with. This is the only way to prepare ourselves and our organizations for the inevitable uncertainty.