The Third Turn

Dr. Mark L. Vincent's Blog

Organizational Leaders: A Need to Embrace Imprecision

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Jun 16, 2014 6:30:00 AM
We are so deep into the 1s and 0s, the ons and offs, of the digital age that we have become resistant to imprecision. If it isn't in the data field it doesn't exist. If it isn't in the inventory record there is no point schlepping to the storeroom to see if something was returned or recently delivered. If a mapping app gets us lost we are powerless to navigate by our environment. In endless ways now we want an application to provide control over our moments rather than respond to them.  We are outsourcing our very selves.
In all areas of personal and vocational life we are combating disorder, disarray and dysfuncton--not by experimenting, evaluating and evolving--but by ordering, organizing and occasionally obtaining what others have worked to develop rather than doing the creative work ourselves.

The problem is that fewer people are doing the messy, imprecise and creative work that brings benefit to others. The disincentives are becoming more numerous.  The drive to do so is diminishing. The desire for discovery is disappearing. And yet, it is in the frontier, those unmapped places, where disruptive technologies, processes or services are made. Someone has to do the guessing, experimenting and launching. Someone has to have desire to try, permission to fail, and the driving sense of purpose to keep trying until new breakthroughs are made.

One key arena where imprecision is not going to go away--in fact, we can argue that it is increasing--is working with people. Our love for all things digital is reducing our interest and our capacity to respond to the rich mosaic of personality and culture. Some would argue with this, pointing to the increasing tolerance of modern society. They fail to realize that ignoring instead of being irritated by differences is a step further away from human engagement rather than a step toward it. 

An evidence we might point to is how aggregate numbers of people involved in civic organizations, board service, volunteer organizations, congregational life, and neighborhood groups continue to decline. We are drawing further and further inward, venturing outdoors less, and wrapping ourselves in ever tighter predictable and controlled technological cocoons.

This blog post comes through technology so there is no Luddite sentiment behind these observations. The hope is that those who read this far have a cup of coffee in their hand--that they will share this with a colleague or friend along with an invitation to conversation, perhaps even some debate.

When you do have that conversation, may I suggest responding to at least one of the following two questions -- out loud, in the presence of someone, and with the intent to follow through?
  • What next step will I take to allow, value and preserve imprecise space in my life so that I don't amputate creative problem solving ability?
  • Who brings benefit to my life that I have been ignoring, and how will I work to restore and strengthen that relationship?

The creative space of life that benefits the world is a messy recipe. So is a good homemade pie. Grandma wore an apron and embraced the messy love her granchildren still speak of.

-mark l vincent 


Topics: process design, process consulting, Process consultation and design, organizational development consulting, Organizational Leadership, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, organizational design, organizational clarity


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