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Greenleaf Book Group
Service Provider
The Business of Ambiguity
Have you ever been faced with a puzzling pattern of events, been stuck in a confusing situation, or felt trapped by your own routine thinking patterns? Or have you wondered about how you think and make decisions during messy and unexpected situations? In The Business of Ambiguity, Dr. Debbie Sutherland guides you to implement five key thinking and behavior strategies to explore business uncertainties and build an ambiguity mindset—the cognitive and behavioral capacity to untangle and understand the nuances of ambiguous situations. Using research and powerful real-life stories from dozens of executives whose roles involve a high degree of ambiguity, Dr. Sutherland provides you with the tools, resources, and insights to help you increase your comfort with the unknowns. If you are a business leader who wants to expand your thinking and leadership capacity, someone who wants to explore a knowing gap in life or business, or someone who has felt that it might be time to understand your biases and assumptions on a deeper level, this book is for you.
Organizational psychologist and executive coach Sutherland argues that it’s a misnomer that people hate or fear change–instead, they fear ambiguity, those times when goals, problems, and other fundamental aspects of life or business are unclear. To that end, she introduces readers to ambiguity mindset theory, which centers on “the cognitive and behavioral capacity to reflect on, examine, and adapt” our behaviors and thinking when making decisions in situations marked by high uncertainty. Drawing upon personal observations of business behavioral patterns and extensive academic research, Sutherland lays out five key strategies for facing ambiguity, plus three main decoding principles that serve as the foundation for developing an ambiguity mindset, all while offering real-world insight and avenues for personal assessment.

Written for global companies and executives, this comprehensive organizational leadership guide begins with a detailed introduction to the theory, decoding principles, plus the four main concepts that comprise an ambiguity mindset: mental models, systems thinking, complex adaptive systems (CAS), and learning from experience. After a quick overview of seven adult learning principles, Sutherland provides a self-assessment questionnaire to determine the reader’s comfort with uncertainty. Each chapter following is dedicated to one of the five ambiguity strategies, digging deep into the models and concepts that comprise each. At times, the guide reads as an overview of behavioral psychology and adult learning theory, but Sutherland proves adept at weaving in practical examples, insightful exercises, and a few pop culture references to drive home the concepts behind the ambiguity mindset. The research she presents, while extensive, is broken into smaller, digestible sections.

This book serves as much more than an introduction to the ambiguity mindset. It sheds insight onto human behavior and the psychology behind decision making. Sutherland presents unique tools and resources to build emotional intelligence, better learn from experiences, and adjust thinking in ways that not only address uncertainty in business but also everyday stressors in life.

Takeaway: This guide introduces the “ambiguity mindset” for businesses facing uncertainty.

Great for fans of: Don Gilman’s Outsmarting VUCA, Daniel Coyle’s The Culture Code.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-