Predictability v Spontaneity

I am traveling for these 2 weeks ending tomorrow.

Parts of my trip have been very carefully planned and executed, while during other parts, I have winged it. All of it has worked out, sometimes serendipitously well. Some of the times have involved a little mail-biting.

I don’t have all of tomorrow figured out yet and I find myself distracted by that.

Today is an open day for me. I will work, swim in the wonderful pool here, go for a walk and meet up with some people for supper. Rather than enjoy that, I’m thinking about tomorrow.

I’m good at winging it. I’ll tell you my Prague story some day. But it’s distracting. When I’m trying to figure out my way, I’m not in the here and now enjoying the people and place around me.

On the other hand, if it’s all arranged, there’s no room for side adventures and serendipity and creating your own pace.

A funny thing happened this week. I’m here with 700 other people for a summit. Everything is arranged, but sometimes it hasn’t all been communicated. So it felt uncertain, even though it wasn’t. Again, I was distracted. Would the bus be there or not? Invariably it was. Even though things were arranged, we didn’t feel the predictability of them.

There were times that were left open. These were opportunities for us to explore and revel in some uncertainty. In these cases, we were happy with that uncertainty and we were able to manage it.

Uncertainty is fun when we are prepared for it. Uncertainty takes some of our attention to manage.

Let’s apply that to business.
Make experiences predictable, your people should know that they will be taken care of and their needs met.
Communicate what people can they know what you have done for them.
Leave spaces for planned uncertainty. That may be time in a schedule or space for trying new things.

Leave a comment


  1. My two bits is wing it as much as it’s safe. In my case my daily life is so regimented that the feeling of excitement that winging it brings is a welcome reprieve during my travels. Just out of curiosity what is you “summit” on? Whenever I hear summit I think of very important people in business attire deciding the fate of the world. Am I close?

    • I like winging it sometimes when I travel, too. Not for the important bits like fights and connecting flights.

      I’m at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar. We’re 700 people from around the world meeting to discuss ‘ideas worth sharing’. We are all TEDx organizer, so we have all put on events in our communities.

      • You will please forgive my ignorance but what is TEDx. I took a quick look at the link but found info about the event but no succinct description about what TEDx is (I think people that go to this link already know so it’s not really explained). At any rate I’m glad you had a good time and winged it a bit. Cheers

  2. TEDx is an independently organized TED event ( TED is a semi-annual gathering of the coolest people doing the most interesting things. The event invites some of these people to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. These talks are then shared on the internet.

    TED is all about ideas worth spreading. TEDx organizers work within the TED rules to put on a similar local event. I will often watch a TED talk at lunch time at my desk as a wonderful break and a shot of inspiration.


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