Answers in the Data? LO6343

Rol Fessenden (
31 Mar 96 23:16:27 EST

Replying to LO6335 --

Joanne identified perhaps the most intimidating impediment to LOs and to
reflective inquiry in her fascinating posting.

The essenece of what she says is that people are uncomfortable with
ambiguity, and may, in fact, believe that there is none. I hope I didn't
lose too much in this grand simplification.

As a practicing manager who believes -- feet of clay and all -- in
empowerment, my experience has been that the inability to accept and be
comfortable with ambiguity is the single greatest impediment to people's
intellectual and professional growth.

I agree this perception -- that there is very little of any consequence
that is ambiguous -- is epidemic in the culture, and it tends to be less
dominant in older people. Joanne described it as a developmental stage --
if I understood her correctly -- whereas I always wondered if we created
this perception by the way we educate. She clearly knows a great deal
more about it than I do. However, it would be interesting to do some
research on other -- especially non-European -- cultures to see if there
are other viewpoints in those cultures.

She says, "No doubt these belief systems are observable in corporate life
as well." My, my that is an understatement. I think we reinforce this
mind-set in our MBA programs, our ROI calculations, Our annual budgets,
our two-year and twenty year long-range plans, and so forth. The very
real danger is that we cannot develop a LO or a high-performance team with
people who think like this.

For the person who is struggling to become a more effective professional,
this 'no ambiguity' mind-set leads almost inevitably to win-lose
situations. Generally -- I know I oversimplify -- this person either gets
their way, or does not. In the former he/she wins, and in the latter
he/she loses and becomes a victim. Neither of these situations can lead
to an empowered person in a high-performing environment.

Thank you Joanne for clarifying an issue I have struggled mightily to


Rol Fessenden LL Bean

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