Why Needing Answers is a Sign of Fragility

11 Mar

Getting answers is comforting, it allows people to move forward, get clarity, and achieve closure. However, needing an answer to complex situations can be counter productive. The problem lies on two fronts, which I’ll quickly cover below.

Firstly, an answer can close down other potential interpretations, limiting sense making. The reassurance an answer provides can potentially fixate the view on a single interpretation, this can be problematic in environments which are complex, uncertain and volatile; in these environments not only is the answer likely to change several times but so is the question. The second point is that a fixated view in a dynamic environment creates vulnerability; being certain you have an answer and then suddenly finding out otherwise results in a level of unpreparedness likely to cause harm. 

An answer can narrow the frame of reference to a point which blinds to. Desiring answers needs to be measured against the volitality, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity present in the environment. In these environments there is a simple formula- the desire to seek answers in a complex environment is proportionate the fragility of the answer seeking system.

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