When ambiguity is just lack of planning

A few years ago, quite a few, I applied for a job where I first came across the term "ability to work with ambiguity". Meaning, of course, you will need to make decisions without all the information you may want, or need, on hand. And there will be a certain degree of vagueness about some of the information you do have. Be prepared to deal with that.

I got the job and worked with my manager through a number of exciting and business changing projects that I really enjoyed. Knowing that it was okay not to know everything had its times of anxiety and exhilaration. But on the whole we worked through them, achieved our goals and moved on.

As business evolves with things like the Internet, mobile apps, the pace of change itself and a new generation of management coming through who also need to take time to learn the fundamentals of business, the possibilities for ambiguity are also increasing.

But I believe there is a difference between change and the ambiguity it brings and the general lack of planning that I see and hear about.

I also agree with Churchill:

“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”
― Winston Churchill

Plans in themselves will never be 100% accurate. Things change. But to have no documented plan, or perhaps worse, no shared documented plan is anathema! It's the kiss of death. Not just to the business but also to those in the business who have little to no direction or purpose - other than to come into work each and discover what the day throws at them - just after it's thrown.

And yet it seems that decisions are made in business without the engagement of those who will be implementing the plan and then little sharing, apart from the headlines, of the plan so people know what is expected.

A case in point is a recent decision for a business to go paperless. No more files, a few less dead trees and, hopefully a little more productive. Only problem is, the decision was made on the spot and dependent departments have not signed off on the initiative or agreed to the concept. For example, the Audit Department!