Working In Uncertainty

Test yourself

How well do you deal with limited knowledge and control in your working life? Here is a collection of imaginary but realistic scenarios and you just have to judge each of the suggested alternative actions. Each scenario has a suggested answer and some explanation.

Please note that as you complete each scenario your answers are sent back to me for research and development purposes. I ask you to give a name but it doesn't have to be your real name; just use the same name every time so that I can study patterns of answers across multiple scenarios. Thank you in advance for your cooperation, and I hope you have fun with these!

The serious point

The scenarios used in the above tests are ones that crop up at work quite often. Some of them are based on actual situations that have destroyed famous companies. The ability to deal with these situations robustly, even when there are other distractions and pressures for bad behaviour, is valuable. Working through these scenarios strengthens the ability to do so in the following ways:

  • Tackling the situations in these tests provides a form of psychological 'immunisation' as when young people are asked what they would say to a person offering them illegal drugs. Rehearsing a behaviour consistent with their basic beliefs prepares them to resist more easily in the more difficult situation of a real life offer of drugs by someone they perhaps know well.

  • Good judgement is reinforced by the fact that others agree (where survey results are available) and by expert reasons.

  • Poor judgements are challenged by the expert reasons and by seeing that most people think otherwise.

If you want to increase these benefits further, for your own learning or to make sure others fully understand what is expected of them in uncertain, pressured situations, then consider engaging me to provide individual technical tutoring or teletutoring based on these scenarios. For example, you could use it to:

  • immunise key members of a project, especially if they have shown a tendency to hold back news of potential problems, to make optimistic assumptions, or delay exploring issues that involve high uncertainty;

  • promote a Beyond Budgeting programme by encouraging managers to discuss performance using questions and statements that support its principles rather than dragging fixed targets and budget variances back into consideration by the back door; or

  • help new managers to learn to act responsibly, compensating to some extent for their lack of years of experience.

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Company: The Ridgeway Expertise Company Ltd, registered in England, no. 04931400.

Registered office: 29 Ridgeway, KT19 8LD, United Kingdom.

Words © 2011 Matthew Leitch