Certainty in an uncertain environment

Let’s face it; there is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. Issues we face are no longer mostly complicated where timely intervention by technical experts and robust processes lead to solutions. Instead our challenges often fall into the realm of complexity that is distinguished by endless information, conflicting value positions, inabilities for technical fixes and no obvious answers.

In response we are driven to collaborate more than we have before as we acknowledge that flexible interventions around emergent properties are probably our best bet at getting desirable outcomes. However collaboration as a process itself is also beset by uncertainty.

So much is unknown and uncertain when you enter a collaborative process. Just a few of the questions that can swirl in people’s minds are:

Will it work?
Who are these other people I am working with?
What do they think?
What do I think?
Will we be able to influence decisions?
and so on….

The Power of Co framework, depicted below, offers a slice of certainty amidst this noise. Sometimes I refer to the Power of Co as a handrail that keeps you on track regardless of the terrain you cover. When everyone in the collaborative process knows where they are at with the five iterating phases of the Power of Co, people can focus their considerable energy on building wise solutions.

Just last week I was reminded of the calmness that the Power of Co can bestow on what is a messy space of human interaction. I had opened a meeting of a multi-stakeholder group, with whom I have been working for 10 months, with a prayer. The first two verses of this well known prayer written by Reinhold Niebur around 1926 go like this:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.


The group had been building their collective wisdom over the preceding months and had reached collective decisions on several areas and was about to share their recommendations with the penultimate decision makers. Judgement time. Has this collaborative process worked?

Rather than feeling a build of tension from the group as a binary logic was applied to their collaboration of WORKED/DIDN’T WORK, the group was calm. They had the Power of Co framework in their DNA and knew that there had been outputs all along the way of their 10 months of collaborating. ‘It’ was working and would continue to work as the group iterated and influenced and innovated.

The Power of Co framework enables you to have a common language for the “wisdom to know the difference” between things that can be changed and things that cannot. It also provides a space of certainty that contributes to people doing their best thinking.

Call Twyfords today if you want to explore bringing some certainty to your complex situation.


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