The Future Looks Complex and Ambiguous

“According to PriceWaterhouseCooper’s report, ‘The Future of HR’, managing complexity, ambiguity and technology are the biggest trends for HR as we head toward the year 2022.” (p36 People Talk V22-N2-Summer 2015)  Anyone in business knows this to be true beyond HR.  It is equally true for the organisations and people within the organisations that HR serves.
A question much asked in the last 10-15 year is “How can leaders make sound decisions with complexity and the pace of change increasing as they are?” (Both only adding, of course, to the ambiguity!)   I believe the answer lies in choosing our modus operandi based on the context.  To do this, a brief history lesson….

Ancient Hebrews and Ancient Greeks offered us two very distinct ways thinking.  Two very different methods of understanding our worlds.  The Western education system is based on the Greek methodology.
The Hebrews used stories – using rich, multi-layered pictures that allow both our conscious minds and our intuition access to the truths within them.  This method gives us understanding that is akin to a knowing that cannot always be explained by logic and yet somehow transcends it.
The Greeks gave us an equally valuable methodology that breaks the whole into parts or steps and in the breaking down into its components, we gain understanding.  An understanding that appeals to our minds, but limits our understanding to that which we can ‘logically prove’.  This  methodology is what most of us, in the Western world, rely on.
Each methodology has its limitations.  Each suits some situations better than others.
My years of observing human dynamics, including human dynamics within the workplace, have me convinced that in order to lead well we need to reduce our dependence on a Greek way of thinking and learn to trust the Hebrew ‘knowing’.  This is easier said than done for those who have not yet learned to trust the Hebrew story methodology for generating understanding.  Growing up ‘figuring things out’ makes it hard to trust understanding gained simply by ‘observing’ or ‘noticing’.
In situations that don’t involve human dynamics (such as the workings of a gear box) it is good to ‘figure it out’, to break it down into logical elements.  However, logic alone fails us when we introduce ambiguity or high levels of complexity – here we need to step back and observe…  The story based way of analysing allows us to understand and respond to the key factors without having to break it down.  It draws on our sub-concious mind, or intuition.  A powerful part of our intelligence that some in Western leadership have learned to rely on.
I’d love to hear your stories of where you, or leaders you know, relied on a Hebrew way of thinking because Greek logic wasn’t right for the context.