Decision Making and Appreciating the Outcomes – Part 2

in my last post (Decision Making and Appreciating the Outcomes – Part 1) I suggested that considering how we deal with potential hardships arising from important life choices can be useful to us. My audience includes OD practitioners and their clients. In this post I will deal with the matter of how to better put ourselves in a position to “appreciate the outcomes” when uncertainty whacks us in the head.

I will be borrowing heavily from Nassim Taleb’s book on Antifragility which I highly recommend to those who wish to become better acquainted with how to deal with uncertainty.

Taleb sees us (personally, professionally, organizationally, and societally) at any one time place on a continuum of exposure to the effects of uncertainty.

The weakest state is being “fragile”. This location is one of being literally exposed to virtual, figurative, even literal extinction. Taleb is quite ruthless in that he suggests that all the subprime and banking collapse nonsense are excellent examples of being in this state of exposure. He also argues that relying on technology is often likely to put us in this circumstance too (witness what happens when our business/bank/government computer system fail). Literally our lives are jolted with inconvenience or even worse.

The middle state is that of being robust/resilient. This means that we survive or cope with the occurring events. What hit home for me, was how much we preach in OD about the need for resilience when facing change. I remember Bridges (sorry can’t put my finger on the book’s name) highlighting this capability as a strength. For Taleb, it far better to be in a different place on the continuum when confronting uncertainty.

He would consider this the state of being “Antifragile”. This state is one where we not only cope, but we are able to thrive or take opportunistic advantage of impacts of life’s uncertain events. Taleb provides lots of examples of what he considers to be antifragile like strategies. Many of these make sense to me (not becoming to big and centralized), some I am not so sure (adopting the Swiss form of government) about. But, he does provide specific possibilities. The encouraging part of his thoughts is that we can be optimistic about our abilities to take on, and benefit from, life’s vicissitudes.

So my thought is that if we want to be able to appreciate our life choices, we must not only choose wisely (sorry Indiana Jones and the Last Crusades when choosing the chalice) but we must be ready for uncertainties and risks that come with our choices.

Appreciating outcomes from great life (strategic) choices means not only enjoying seeing and experiencing the achievement of goals, receiving a sense of satisfaction and meaningful pride in what has been achieved, growing from the experience of pursuit and achievement, BUT, also the fact that you were successful in dealing with hardships that occurred.

In fact, many people I know have said they got the most out of their hardship experiences and these were rarely ever planned for. There can be much to appreciate from having uncertainty impinge on our lives.

Best wishes in your life choices.


About 123stilllearning456

As a management consultant I am passionately interested in talent management and risk/uncertainty issues. In the area of talent management I propose that we seek strategies that look beyond the staffing/employee centric frames of reference. I have been frustrated at the "closing down on possibilities" by these more conventional staffing/employee centric approaches. I have been impressed where people have found systematic solutions to their talent management issues by going beyond the conventional approaches. In the area of risk and uncertainty, I am interested in making this topic relevant to more normal decision making situations. My conceptual foundation is to use the micro-economist's fixed/variable cost theme. I also think it is important to look at these issues for people through their emotional and psychological lens. As a premise I think risk and uncertainty only exist where there is a person who cares about possible events and its consequences. Hence, risk and uncertainty are social based concepts (no sentience, no risk and uncertainty). A major influence on my thinking in this area is Nassim Taleb of "Black Swan" fame. This BLOG provides me with an opportunity to express my thoughts on topics that interest me. As this is an online diary, content is more important to me than polish. I apologize if this distracts from readers' enjoyment and learning. Still I find this a useful way to live up to my namesake, learn more from others and hopefully provoke creative thoughts and ideas in others.
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