A person crossing a rocky river barefoot

Navigating Uncertainty

When We Need to Cross the River by Feeling the Rocks

Uncertain times are characterized by a lack of stability, clarity, and predictability, leading to increased stress and feelings of vulnerability.  There seems to be a lot of uncertainty in the market today.    The current economic landscape is filled with intrigue, both daunting and exhilarating.  Economic uncertainty casts a shadow of unpredictability over financial landscapes that challenge projections and decisions.  Markets sway at whims, and businesses and individuals navigate the ebb and flow.  One of the conversations that we have been hearing is that maybe the changes that we are experiencing are breaking the rules of historical economic and financial predictions, and some new rules of logic are being formed.

When you really do not know what’s coming next, there’s no logical calculus you can bring to bear … What’s needed in this situation is not rational calculation but resilience.

In a recent interview with W. Brian Arthur, eminent economist and tech historian, some of the required adaptability to uncertainty is explained.  As he explains, we are living through a period of great uncertainty.  “There’s been COVID-19, disrupted supply chains, the war in Ukraine, a deterioration of relations with China and inflationary pressures. You could also add in the rise of generative AI and of hybrid and remote work. Most of these disruptions surprised us; they were largely unforeseen in advance”.  This is the place where resilience is learned, and innovation is born.

A plant growing through a rock

Innovation borne out of resilience is a powerful force that propels individuals, organizations, and societies forward in the face of adversity. When challenges arise, the need to adapt and survive often sparks creative thinking and the development of groundbreaking solutions.

Resilience is important for several reasons:

  • It allows us to adapt to uncertainty
  • It increases our problem-solving skills and find ways to overcome
  • It helps us to maintain focus and determination
  • It helps us grow and learn while reducing negative impact
  • It fosters innovation

Adaptation means having a tool kit of preparedness:  people, plans, responses, ideas attitudes and equipment to allow us to create solutions quickly.

He goes on to say that what is needed in today’s uncertainty is not a rational calculation but resilience, as we are in a world where we don’t trust the ground we stand on.  We can expect the uncertainty to continue for a while but should not lead to inaction. We will be faced with surprises and upheavals throughout the upcoming decades but can still pursue growth and efficiency.  Disruptions are coming at us with lightening speed and technology is changing.  Adaptation means having a tool kit of preparedness:  people, plans, responses, ideas attitudes and equipment to allow us to create solutions quickly.

Investments today respond to global events, policy shifts and technological waves.  While it breeds caution, it also fuels innovation and adaptability.  Economic uncertainty underscores the need for robust strategies.  It’s a reminder that resilience and preparedness serve as anchors in our long-term stability.

Each step we take feels like we are moving into uncharted territory.  As long as we remain flexible, we will not only survive but we will thrive.

We need to remember that confusion is not a bad thing

We need to remember that confusion is not a bad thing.  It allows us to think of new and better versions of our organizations that will enable us to prepare for the future.  It not only teaches us how to remake things but how to remake us, and this brings clarity.

assorted gems

Beautiful Polished Rocks

While we feel like we are crossing the river by feeling the rocks during this time of uncertainty, if we stay the course, we may find those rocks beautifully polished stones. See Steve Jobs on Beautiful Polished Rocks here.  The noise and the chaos of the tumbling are what create the ‘gems’ that we find so beautiful.