I used to work as a strategist in a ‘foreign’ country that scores very high on Uncertainty Avoidance on the cultural dimensions of Geerts Hofstede (which is by the way very interesting reading, also when dealing with multi-national environments).
The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.
The Dutch for example on the other hand, score very low.
Anyway, this experience taught me a thing or two that are applicable everywhere.
One thing is, that it is not (just) about a great, world changing, creative, out-of-the-box ideas. Those ideas are scary. For people with a high Uncertainty Avoidance, these ideas are, eh, preferably Avoided. And not just uncertain people, it is a common human trait…
That made me think.
It is not about the ideas, it is about reducing fear and create acceptance for new ideas.
That changes the out-of-the -box way of thinking. Out-of-the-box ideas are great and necessary, but it’s also necessary to increase the box. Only then the world changing ideas have a chance of landing inside the box.
This is also a responsibility for creatives and strategist. Not just dropping the idea, but creating this new context, in which the idea has to – or can be – seen. This way it turns uncertainty into opportunity and changes into achievable challenges.
This way great ideas can change the world.