Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dealing with Ambiguity!

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity! ~ Gilda Radner

I have just written a short post on life being in a state of perennial beta. And the importance of dealing with ambiguity. I think as a literature graduate who spent years seeped in metaphors and symbols of words, ambiguity is a little easier to handle. And not being too great with number crunching, I am often happy with ambiguity as long as I have the end outcome in mind.

Why is ambiguity important?

It gives rise to questions
It makes you probe deeper
It makes you suspecting of surface reality
It makes you uncomfortable and forces you to find a way out
It has layers of complexity that one can peel away like an onion; usually the un-peeling is rewarding.

But how do you explain ambiguity and hidden roads to those who are used to dealing with hard facts and numbers? How do you show them that the path will not always be linear and will have twists and turns and sudden bifurcations? How do you show them the answer which is as yet in the conceptual stage without the support of quantitative analytical proof? And most importantly, not feel a perfect fool when asked to provide details you are unable to tell.

Ambiguity is not to be confused with lack of planning. Lack of planning is chaos. Ambiguity is those grey areas in the plan that makes us probe and ask and dig. Ambiguity exists because we know the desired outcome and the gaps, and the missing pieces of the puzzle disturb us.

Some research led me to the following post--Dealing with Ambiguity—nicely explains how ambiguity can be taken into consideration in the planning process.

Most importantly, it showed me the planning possibilities taking ambiguity along as a companion.

I have taken the following diagrams from there to illustrate my points. I suggest you read the post for a deeper insight.

Efficient diversity:
Probably the one most applied in creative design projects.

Hill climbing: Most applied in engineering projects where the end solution is well defined

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