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Navigating the Unknown within Organisations

In recent years, several key factors that were previously considered consistent and indicative of dependable stability, such as economic growth, organizational equilibrium, and career progression, have lost their reliability as sole predictors of future developments in organizational resilience and leadership prerequisites. As we navigate this evolving landscape, it has become increasingly clear that traditional organisational structures and paradigms, originally designed for a context characterised by gradual shifts and a relatively stable work environment, are no longer sufficient as solutions to address the profound economic, social, political, and environmental challenges companies are presented with. This prompts the question: How can individuals effectively navigate this terrain of uncertainties within organisations impacted by these complex, interconnected, and transformative challenges? What adaptations are necessary for organizational leadership to confront these uncertainties and successfully guide their teams through them?

Paradoxically, yet unsurprisingly, humans still yearn for stability and control. This underscores a fundamental tension between our innate need for predictability, clearly defined processes, and reliable structures and an ever-changing and unpredictable world. Confronted with an increasingly intricate and uncertain reality, our instinctive response is often denial, resistance, or futile attempts to exert control over the uncontrollable, providing only fleeting illusions of security and stability. As organizations adapt to this new era of perpetual change, the fabric of team structures and leadership must undergo a profound cultural transformation - a radical paradigm shift that extends far beyond what our society has encountered to date.

While it is challenging to make any steadfast prediction on how this economic landscape will change and impact all aspects of life, it is not sufficient to make adaptations after the ‘fact’. The dilemma is how and what changes to implement to catch the impact before it happens or travel with it as it unfolds as described by P. Wollmann[1] as the travelling Organization. At the same time, we need to foster an environment that provides some stability and grounding even though the external conditions are permanently changing. It presents a real unprecedented dilemma. In other words, we need to re-imagine a new world, but we don’t know what that looks like.

We do not only need to break free from our current ways of organising systems and institutions but also from our traditional problem-solving approaches, the way we perceive issues, and our role within them. It is increasingly clear that we require a fresh generation of organisational structures, a new approach to leadership, and a mindset that differs significantly from our accustomed thinking to navigate the unpredictable challenges we face.

Research by Garry Klein Ph.D.[2] suggests that professionals dealing with high-risk situations and numerous uncertain variables often devise strategic plans by drawing on their experience, analytical skills, and intuition. They appear to access valuable insights that can't be obtained through purely rational thought. Initially, this unconventional method of tapping into new insights might seem to add more uncertainty to our already uncertain future, however this turns out not to be true. Post-event computer analysis has, in the majority of cases, failed to generate a superior plan compared to the one initially formulated by the on-site emergency professionals when the incident occurred.

In the realm of exceptional human experiences lies a remarkable state known as the 'Flow State.' This state goes beyond the ordinary and involves a profound connection with reality, driven by a deep self-awareness and an acute sensitivity to one's surroundings. What sets this state apart is its departure from the traditional and purely analytical approach; it draws upon a holistic blend of mental states, mindsets, and taps into a knowledge not attainable through mere extrapolation from past information. Teams functioning within the flow state harmonise and align to the point where they function as a single, interconnected entity, united by a shared and higher purpose. In this state, teams, whether working individually or collaboratively, serve as a stabilising hub, providing a sense of grounding when external conditions are unpredictable.

These 'non-ordinary' states of being, also subject to research as described by Adam Grant[3], have demonstrated how people have not only survived seemingly insurmountable conditions but also conceived ground breaking inventions that defy conventional logic. To attain this state, individuals must wear multiple hats—acting as their own psychologists, researchers, artists, and spiritual guides. This unconventional approach challenges leaders to transcend their current methods of self-management and team leadership and combines the mastery of the following:

Awareness and Emotional Resilience

A leader's ability to recognise, understand, and manage their own emotions, as well as those of their team, that allows leaders to connect with their teams on a deeper level, offering support and understanding.

Ability to Re-think

A mindset that embraces the idea that what seems impossible can actually be achieved. This combined with a healthy relationship with vulnerability, encourages individuals to be open and reconsider their own perspectives and beliefs with the intention to create a culture of innovation, experimentation and self-management.

Serving from the context of a Higher Purpose

A dedication to serving others and directing one's focus away from personal concerns toward collective accomplishments as described in Human Being by Ashkan Tashvir[4]:

“Higher Purpose is being drawn and compelled towards a future vision or cause greater than your personal concerns and beyond your immediate interests and/or comfort in such a way that it sets your priorities and worldview. … A healthy relationship with higher purpose indicates that you draw yourself forward to fulfilling challenges you wouldn’t normally take on…”

The State of Effortless and Timelessness: Flow State

A state of being in surrender, congruency with reality while being open and trusting inner guidance. It is a state that brings about a sense of ease and flow, defies the usual sense of time and brings about unforeseen insights and possibilities.

The next generation of authentic leaders must surpass their perceived boundaries in unexpected ways. Mastering the Flow State offers a method to achieve unforeseen outcomes, causing a significant leap in progress. This approach not only guarantees alignment with the environment but also cultivates deep connections within communities and teams. It serves as a foundational element for resilient organisations, equipping them with the capacity to navigate the unknown successfully.

[1] P. Wollmann et al. (eds.). 2020. Three Pillars of Organization and Leadership in Disruptive Times, Future of Business and Finance. Springer Nature Switzerland AG. [2] Garry Klein, PH.D. 2004. The Power of Intuition. Doubleday division of Random House, Inc.: New York. [3] Adam Grant. 2021. Think Again. Penguin Random House: Ireland, Dublin. [4] Ashkan Tashvir, A. 2022. Human Being – illuminating the reality beneath the facade. Engenesis Publications: Australia, Sydney.

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