Novelty, uncertainty & the ‘problematic’ other.

By October 2, 2012General

Today’s challenges in society bring about new thinking and ways of working: ‘Shared Value‘ (Porter and Kramer; 2011) or CSR 2.0 (Visser; 2010); business and NGO’s join forces (e.g. Unilever and Save the Children partnership); blurring boundaries between the private and the public sector; social entrepreneurship. 

In all these innovative approaches, those involved are faced with at least two big challenges: new cooperations, organisations and persons will have to learn to cope with uncertainty and novelty. Secondly, they must learn to truly see and accept the other as equal partners yet diverse, thus overcoming a deeply and commonly held perspective of the ‘problematic’ other.

Learning to deal with uncertainty and novelty is the essence of dealing with new, big and complex problems as we see today. ‘Business as usual’ simply does not work anymore. It is through keeping up with uncertainty, that our creativity gets a chance to speak and may bring about novelty.

How can we cope with uncertainty and novelty? Here’s a top 3 list of what we have learned to be powerful approaches:

  • Accept fear, vulnerability and failure: Yes, you and your (new) team are in a ‘not as usual situation’. Be aware of such feelings and share them with your team members. Trying and failing can actually be insightful and are often better than wait and see (for the others to act).
  • Try to be hopeful, positive and resilient: these mental states help better decision making and hence better output. 
  • Can you be grateful for your role in this new unprecedented problem context. Can you feel a sense of gratitude or pride to actually use your talents and creativity and to jointly address this ‘bigger thing’ ?

We welcome your valuable comments to share and learn as a ‘change makers’ – community.

Next blog: Diversity or the ‘problematic’ other.