Robust uncertainty

Dave Snowden quotes Lofti Lotfi Zadeh*

As complexity increases precise statements lose their meaning, and meaningful statements lose their precision

Dave adds this observation:

The difficulty with measurement systems, and the whole MBA/consultancy approach to strategy with its emphasis on analysis at the expense of action is that it fails to recognise complexity and seeks precision at the cost of meaning. This is not to say that analysis is wrong, but the nature and focus of analysis is different.

Earlier this morning I was reflecting on the dilemma of holding uncertainty. One of the pitfalls is that it can often sound like a weak position, losing out in a fight to those offering “solutions” who seem to be certain. I sometimes talk about the need for robust uncertainty – being confident that there is no simple answer.

*I’ve not heard of Lofti Lotfi, so I googled and see he’s a fuzzy logician. UPDATE Sean Murphy adds this link in his comment below.

3 thoughts on “Robust uncertainty

  1. Cheryl

    I like the term “Robust Uncertainty” (certainly describes a state I find myself in on a regular basis). Sounds like a pre-condition for creative work of any kind.


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