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It’s getting weird out there. And while the complexity of uncertainty and the unknown, unknowables is increasing, your organization and leadership team will be pressured to makes sense of the challenges and develop some planning steps to make things better.

I’ve spent three days with multiple client teams, and have more scheduled, on how to use sensemaking and develop various plans and decisions to respond to health and work crises, that have moved from chaotic into the complex

We used the SOLVEDcards to construct a progress-focused discussion and create a framework for each person to share and hear multiple perspectives. 

solution-focused process for complexity and uncertainty planning
solution-focused process for complexity and uncertainty planning

In my effort to be your partner in progress, I am sharing a PowerPoint that I used with two teams to work through the complexity in a solution-focused way and complete the meeting with next-steps and a way to test and modify the assumptions and plans. Feel free to download and use as you see fit. 


“Since solutions are not predicable in any detail & since there is more than one potential way of behaving in the future without the complaint, the new set of expectations can be constructed out of any satisfactory or beneficial changes. Any change stands a chance of starting a ripple effect which will lead to a more satisfactory future.”

– Steve de Shazer
Decision Making and Planning Complicated Challenges 

Mainly internal and can be seen or understood through clear and complicated thinking. 

  1. Clear Challenges  – there exist current best practices, and your team can find or ask others how to improve. The ambiguity is limited to the process data, and the understanding of the pieces that make the whole – optimize the parts the whole will improve. 
  2. Complicated Challenges – there exist subject-matter-experts who have good practices, in-depth knowledge, and expertise in the control and how to affect these processes. Your team can meet with these experts, and the experts can provide some methods to improve, i.e., most IT implementations, SixSigma, Lean, or quality management. The current staff does not currently understand the ambiguity, and an outside expert helps share their steps and processes. 
Decision Making and Planning Complex Challenges 

Mainly external and cannot be clearly seen or project-managed. Progress happens through complexity framing, looking for patterns, and innovation. 

  1. Complex Challenges – cause and effect are not obvious, and changes to one area will affect many other areas in unknown or unknowable ways. To make sense of progress, your team and organization have to look for patterns and attempt multiple safe-to-fail experiments. The safe-to-fail experiments happen while seeking what is working to amplify and not working to dampen. 

How you and your team approach the complexity and uncertainty of your decision making and planning will impact how employees and customers view your attempted solutions. Are your attempted solutions seen as learning opportunities or blame opportunities? Using the questions in the SOLVEDmethod PowerPoint and listening to various perspectives will support learning opportunities and the ability to respond to changes in the environment.