The Relationship of Uncertainty, Risk, and Mutual Trust and Respect
I have been wondering for years how those concepts are related to each other.
Here is my insight.
If you will pardon the play on words,, change is constant…which means that something new always makes an appearance; it comes into being.
And, that new entity-I will use a consulting term and call it a “new phenomenon”-needs to be addressed.
We usually call the new phenomenon “a problem” because we need to deal with it, one way or another.
And what does it mean, “deal with it?”
First Step: We must decide what to do, and the emphasis is on decide, and doing nothing counts as a decision.
Second Step: We must implement our decision.
It sounds simple, but do not be fooled.
Sometimes we decide but fail to implement. Think of dieting and exercising.
And sometimes we act, i.e. implement, without deciding. Like becoming angry. We are just angry. We did not decide to be angry.
The point I am making is that these two actions, deciding and implementing , are two separate behaviors.
What is involved in making a decision? Let us assume, for example, there is a problem caused by change. A new baby enters the family; or a new parent. Change the venue. A new CEO or plant manager. Or a change in the market because of increased competition; or new technology.
All of these constitute what we might refer to as change, which produces a new problem.
So now it is decision time.
And when it comes to making a decision about something new, there is almost always uncertainty.
Because there are few guides and less information than we would like. We want to know everything available before we act, before we endeavor to solve a new problem caused by change.
Alas, it is never available until after the fact. Thus, uncertainty.
And what is involved in implementing a decision? Risk. Even if we try to play it safe, some percentage of risk is present. In effect, a decision is not risky till implemented. And I need to repeat, not to act is a form of action and thus risky too.
Why is there risk? Because we are trying to solve a problem that is new, and there is no proven track record guaranteeing success.
The presence (and pressure ) of uncertainty and risk often leads to the conclusion that change is stressful. So it is not strange that we try to resist change as much as possible.
Is there a way to reduce uncertainty and risk and thus make change more palatable?
Adopt a problem-solving strategy where decisions are made by a complementary team, complementary not only in know-how, but also in their style(s). It is a significant way to reduce uncertainty. For one, the team members will teach each other. They will share experiences and knowledge and a variety of judgments.
For effective implementation they will explore and look for common interests among those whose cooperation is necessary for implementation.
If there is common interest risk will be lower than if there is no common interest. Without common interests there is the possibility that some of those needed for implementation will not cooperate or maybe even sabotage the solution, thus increasing the risks involved.
But, it is not that simple. This is not the end of the diagnosis.
Complementary teams who should learn from each other, and should have a common interest, will certainly have conflicts. After all learning from others who disagree with you is stressful, and an ongoing common interest is a utopian expectation.
Unless there is Mutual Trust and Respect. That is the key.
If there is trust, a culture of give and take, interests will balance over time. There will be faith that common interests do exist.
Respect for each other’s differences is necessary; the willingness to listen to and honor the opinions of others. As we learn from one another, the process reduces uncertainty. Only through such respect can we learn from diversity.
The end result is that Mutual Trust and Respect reduces uncertainty and risk… and in the process enables faster action and paths to change.
Those companies that have a culture of MT&R will adapt to change faster and better than those that do not. They will succeed and flourish in times of change while those without MT&R will stagnate and eventually disappear.
The purpose of the Adizes Institute is to provide the tools for organizations to transform their culture into one that develops and nourishes Mutual Trust and Respect. And in so doing, make the company the champion of its industry and nation as measured by profitability and by loyalty of the employees to the company.
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes