Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Death to Ambiguity

I have been thinking about this one for a while.  I suppose the debate happening in the Canadian House of Commons about euthanasia got me thinking it was time to post about it. 

I'd like to propose an end to ambiguity.  We should hunt it down and offer a bounty on it. 

Ambiguity is the single biggest threat to our productivity and our way of life.  Every single day, ambiguity and the need to eradicate it from our lives forces us to waste large amounts of our time and effort (and by extension $$$).

I am not proposing that we stop brainstorming or sharing ideas but we must ensure that people are always concerned with ambiguity.  Ask yourself  "What's next?", "When?", "Who owns this?".  Nail it down and then write it down and make sure everyone understands.

But that is just the beginning.  I can't tell you how often people fail to share the fact they have made a decision.  You ask for something, somebody makes a decision on it but never shares the answer.  Maybe they are afraid the answer is NO.  Maybe they are afraid the answer is YES.

I tend to care more that there is answer made rather than what the answer is.  Sure, I would often prefer something go in my favour but still:

As long as I know the answer, I can move forward.

Without an answer, I stuck calling or emailing you back an hundred times to find out.  Without an answer, I am forced to keep you in my inbox.  Without and answer, I am forced to keep you in my "world".

Perhaps if we focused a little bit more on getting rid of ambiguity, we'd all have more time to do the things we really love in life.

When a telemarketer calls (which happens rarely these days), I don't waste my time (or theirs) making them go through a long speech only to say that I'm not interested.  I tell them I'm not interested and move forward.

If a potential supplier is trying to sell me something and I am not interested, I may ask for more material from them but then I don't ignore their follow up emails and phone calls.  I tell them that I have reviewed the material and decided against moving forward.   No harm, no foul.

Think of all the time we'd have back over the course of our lives if we put as much effort into getting past ambiguity as we do in trying to slack off and hide from giving answers.

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