Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


How comfortable is your organization with making decisions in the face of uncertainty?

(Image credit: SmartBrief illustration)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How comfortable is your organization with making decisions in the face of uncertainty?

  • Very: Uncertainty doesn’t deter us at all from taking action now: 24.22%
  • Somewhat: We tend to try to resolve big uncertainties before acting: 39.91%
  • Not very: We’re really hesitant to act until we have a clear picture: 27.80%
  • Not at all: We won’t act until the vast majority of the uncertainty has been resolved: 8.07%

Uncertainty is always certain. 35% of you respond that your organization is pretty hesitant to act until uncertainty surrounding a decision is resolved and another 40% of you are somewhat hesitant. In theory it makes sense that we should wait to make decisions until uncertainty is resolved. In reality, the trap is that new sources of uncertainty emerge every day. You will never have complete resolution of uncertainty. Given that, it’s incumbent upon the leader to act based on the best information available, and, when new information comes to light, possibly make a different decision.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try to resolve uncertainty before deciding. Just realize when you’re reaching that point of equilibrium at which every element of uncertainty you resolve, an equal amount of new uncertainty enters the equation. Once you get there, make a decision and move forward.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, which includes TITAN — the firm’s e-learning platform. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a West Point graduate and author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”