“If you facilitate multiple memories of the future, you build up your organization’s sensitivity to potential ‘weak signals’, the hints on the breeze that it’s time to pivot and pursue a direction you’ve already sort of explored.”

Dr. Jason Fox, Leading a Quest


‘Rather than simply work within existing parameters of operational excellence (incrementally optimising your business model to meet customer needs), pioneering leadership sees you embarking upon quests. Such quests allow us to systematically explore complex and uncertain futures. We don’t set goals in the hopes that a particular future will manifest — rather, we explore multiple possible futures, and prepare proactive stratagems to capitalise on each.’

Dr. Jason Fox

  • Authors note: I used ChatGPT to help with the distinction between some concepts, also, thanks to my friend Dr Jason Fox who actually spurred this thought.


Let me begin where I will end. Clarity is a quantum thought. Yes. I just said that. What I mean is clarity is multi dimensional. Clarity is a constant oscillation of connected things, therefore, fleeting and situational.

That said.

Clarity gets conflated with a variety of things. How to do something (process), what to do (rules) and why to do something (clear understanding of the goals, objectives, and tasks at hand, as well as a clear understanding of the resources, constraints, and stakeholders involved).

Agility gets conflated with a variety of things. How to do something (process), what to do (rules) and why to do something (prioritizing and choicemaking).

Yeah. They get conflated by the same things.

Clarity doesn’t eliminate ambiguity, but rather accommodates ambiguity and therein lies its connection with agility. Clarity can enhance agility by offering a solidish pad from which agility springs from. Agility then offers the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and to respond effectively to new contexts. I believe we can all agree that when there is some clarity in a situation, it is easier to make decisions and take actions that are aligned with the goals and objectives. This, in turn, can enhance agility by allowing quicker shifts of energy and resources as well as adjust strategies as needed.

Basically, clarity and agility are related in that clarity enables agility by providing clearer direction and understanding of the situation, permitting quick effective adapting to new circumstances.

Which leads me to “is clarity the same as sensemaking?”

Well. There is some space between clarity and sensemaking. Clarity refers to having a clear understanding of a situation or information, while sensemaking refers to the process of creating understanding out of complex, ambiguous or uncertain information. While clarity is important in providing a clearer understanding of a situation, ‘clearer’ is relative. What I mean by that is if you buy into the belief we reside in a quantum world with multiple possibilities existing at the same time, it is incredibly rare clarity will completely reflect the totality of a situation. That is actually where sensemaking becomes important to help interpret the information and make sense of it. Clarity and sensemaking are related, but refer to different aspects of understanding information or situations. It’s sensemaking wherein one interprets information, patterns and meaning of a circumstance. Both are important concepts, but both have severe limitations in a quantum world.

Which leads me to sensemaking’s relationship with uncertainty.

The uncertainty principle, also known as Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, is a fundamental concept in quantum mechanics. It states that there’s a fundamental relationship between our knowledge of a quantum particle’s position and momentum. The more we know about the particle’s location in space, the less we know about how its moving, and vice versa. In other words, the more accurately one property is measured, the less accurately the other property can be known.

Sensemaking has an uncomfortable relationship with uncertainty, but certainly has a relationship with the uncertainty principle. Sensemaking always resides in a tug of war between multiple properties. Sensemaking is the process of, well, making sense of things out of complex, ambiguous, or uncertain information, Uncertainty is sensemaking’s constant companion because there will always be some lack of knowledge, information, or predictability about a situation or event. I imagine I am suggesting sensemaking is the solution to uncertainty’s problems. OK. Not completely a solution, but certainly an essential tool if you need to get from here to there in the fog of uncertainty.

Its sensemaking when you can identify patterns, gather information, and develop insights that can help to reduce uncertainty and provide a clearer path forward. Ah. Information. The world has become a bit complicated here. The main thing here is the world has become anti grand narrative and has become a world of information niches and limited action spaces. Yeah. Despite more and more information available, the world has forced everything into fragmented boxes which makes it incredibly difficult to stop the slide into myopia. From there it just becomes a narrower and narrower world where you retreat after getting bludgeoned in the cage match between the information fragments. Uhm. In a quantum world that is the kiss of death.

Which leads me to momentum, velocity and movement.

Momentum, velocity and movement are the outcomes, or the potential outcomes of clarity and agility.

Clarity offers paths of motion, places to rest and moments to accelerate.

Clarity is actually, well, synthesis. It is an ability to create a useful bit of knowledge without actually knowing everything. The clarity offers the lily pad of traction for the true engines of agility – fluidity and flow.

  • Fluidity

Fluidity is an inherent attribute of movement. What I mean by that is business never unfolds in a neat tidy linear set of circumstances. Each situation is the temporary result of a unique combination of circumstances, presenting a unique set of problems and requiring a derivative solution (unique-ish), and, yet, no situation can be viewed as an isolated event. Each circumstance is actually a blend of what came before and what will come after — shaped by the former and shaping the conditions of the latter — creating a continuous, everchanging flow of activity with fleeting windows of opportunities, unforeseen obstacles, and cascading issues. I would even argue fluidity permits one to navigate between alternative realities. Fluidity does not dictate any terms. It is subservient to the ‘reality’ it touches and permits a business to exploit the continuous flow of events and, depending on the level of clarity, gain momentum, engage velocity or maintain positive movement.

  • Flow

Flow is the continuous, smooth flow of value from a business to the market. Generally speaking, it is the optimal operating condition. Flow is more important than ‘scale’ in that it is what navigates the asymmetrical paths, and realities, to ‘more.’ More often than not scale is more rigid, a replication of what exists, while flow is a more natural melding with whatever emerges. You cannot have flow without clarity and you cannot have optimal agility without flow.

I feel the need to add in a point on technology because technology offers (a) the possibility to ‘see’ things in a quantum universe that the human eye cannot see or the human mind may struggle to envision, and (b) the velocity to advantages (even tiny ones) and can certainly enhance fluidity and flow. Conversely, it also offers velocity to disadvantages and stupid shit (even tiny ones) and can enhance inefficient fluidity and misdirected flow. I say that because technology increases fluidity and even poisoned liquid flows. So, when we speak of fluidity and flow, we need to pay attention to what we agree our ‘clarity’ is. This gets tricky because far, far, too often we speak about the ‘next natural step for this system/business,’ but fluidity is rarely about steps and more about evolution in motion. Therefore, words like “framework” or ‘navigation’ or ‘redirect’ become more important concepts. Even things like collective intelligence and collective wisdom and collective principled behavior become even more important because clarity is a shared (so is sensemaking). One person’s clarity, honestly, doesn’t mean shit to the future success of a business (albeit it could bring about some catastrophic failures), but collective clarity is powerful and collective clarity, at least conceptually, has the capability to ‘see’ multiple possible realities.

Which leads me to the importance of humans for clarity (and not AI).

The issue with humans using AI-generated data is the results of their work feed the foundation models that generate the results which need improvement by humans in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle.

Incorrect results are embedded and exacerbate in the models, if not checked by humans. This can get worse quickly because foundation models are then used to generate real strategies and tactics. Then we are off on the catastrophe race as desired goals become circumvented and the downward spiral continues. It can get worse. Foundation models learning from data that is actually created by other foundation models increasingly degrade with every model iteration and possibly even worse is that it occurs at an exponential velocity creating a doomed downward cycle. The reality is the only thing that can circumvent or just pull the plug on these issues are humans. Humans with clarity of objectives and vision and the ability to make sense of the situation. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out Norbert Wiener clearly stated this problem in 1962.

This section may sound like it contradicts the section before when I suggested ‘technology can see things that the human mind cannot.’ It doesn’t. technology can unearth gobs of thngs humans cannot even envision, but it is also humans who must maintain control. Humans are the strength, and weakness, simultaneously, in a quantum world. Maybe that is why some sense of clarity is important.

Which lead me back to human behavior.

Human intelligence is a simple relationship between what we perceive what we want and what we do. What this means is that a human is intelligent to the extent that what we do is likely to achieve what we want – given what we perceive. This suggests that not just behavior, but intelligence, also varies according to what one perceives in its environment. This would also suggest experience, or memories driven from experience, which could possibly be effects of culture or social context, only accelerate or amplify the decision-making process. Cognitively, this happens because the brain protects the individual through fitness of incoming information, i.e., what ‘fits’ into what we believe and want, rather than truth passing along learning and information which could be used to increase the likelihood of success in that context. I share this particular section to remind everyone both true clarity and true sense making are shared concepts. In other words, true clarity or true sense making cannot truly occur in an individual form or just with an individual it can only occur in a collective state. That last sentence is increasingly true, and important, if you think we live in a quantum world with multiple realities to navigate.

“in the blackest darkness even a dim light is better than none.”

Which leads to me to end with a nerdy thought.

Clarity is a quantum thought. Yes. What I mean by that is clarity is multi dimensional. Ok. It’s even beyond that. Clarity, at its best, captures the essence of multiple realities. Maybe I am suggesting clarity is like a Donella Meadows leverage point in a quantum system. All of that may seem counterintuitive to traditional thanking on what clarity is, but clarity is just a vivid moment within a blurry flux. To gain clarity it demands the recognition that life shapes environment which then shapes life which then circles back shaping the environment. Yeah. And in multiple possible realities. Yeah. I just destroyed the foundation of linear thinking. Yeah. I even destroyed the whole concept of cause and effect. Yeah. I just suggested everything begins to take on quantum characteristics. As Masanobu Fukuoka put it:

Nature is a fluid entity that changes from moment to moment. Man is unable to grasp the essence of something because the true form of nature leaves nowhere to be grasped. People become perplexed when drowned by theories that try to freeze a fluid nature. Behind every cause lies countless other causes. Any attempt to trace these back to their sources only leads one further away from an understanding of the true cause.”

But this also means clarity exists in a quantum state of potential. It means clarity exists in a state of dynamic change, nonlinear, but instead one of emergence; ultimately demanding agility. So maybe the ultimate relationship between clarity and agility is that, when done well, means the business navigates what is called the ‘assemblage space’ which is the rough map of what we see and what we don’t – across all possible realities. So maybe the assemblage space is a quantum space? Regardless. I believe clarity is a quantum concept. Ponder.

Written by Bruce