Approximate Thinking Management : Lessons from “Fuzzy on the Dark Side”

How can an understanding of ‘Approximate Thinking’ improve management and support organizations in pursuing their objectives more effectively?

Fuzzy on the Dark Side : Approximate Thinking
Fuzzy on the Dark Side : Approximate Thinking

This is a description of a seminar / short course that applies important “Approximate Thinking” lessons to the management and leadership of organizations.

The discussion here is based on the ideas presented in the book: “Fuzzy on the Dark Side: Approximate Thinking, and how the mists of creativity can become a prison of illusion”.

Book Description

Fuzzy on the Dark Side on Barnes & Noble : Fuzzy and Approximate Thinking
Fuzzy on the Dark Side on Amazon : Fuzzy and Approximate Thinking

Approximate Thinking & Its Reasons

Most of our thinking is approximate thinking. We grasp ideas in a ‘fuzzy’ manner, and our communication, actions, and thoughts are mostly incomplete representations.

Fuzzy (or Approximate) Thinking is how deal with the pervasive knowledge incompleteness that we live in. Accuracy is replaced by a set of shortcuts that come from group meanings (culture) or our identity (real or imagined).

A detailed discussion of this phenomenon, its reasons, and effects on different field can be found in the book and on this page.

Applied : Approximate Thinking Management

Understanding the reasons and processes related to the management of approximate thinking can have important personal and organizational effects.

Important management and leadership tasks, like the definition objectives, the selection of appropriate strategies, and the execution (implementation) of daily tasks and tactics are unfortunately plagued by the dark side of approximate thinking. What R. Rumelt rightfully calls “fluff” in his “Good Strategy, Bad Strategy”, is an excellent description of this.

An identification of the approximate thinking that riddles the management of an organization / division / team / business unit, can help not just with improving the effectiveness with which it is run, but can also lay the foundations for building an innovative and progressive culture that can flexibly and resiliently respond to pressures from the environment, shifting trends, and diverse competition.

Important Considerations & Dimensions

Management is a field with high a high level of complexity, and success can frequently depend on flexibility, clarity & meaning-making, and the ability to forge understanding and cooperation.

The effects of incompleteness, resource shortage, and conflation, can be far-reaching. This can be managed when leaders have the ability to utilize specific tools to navigate the pervasive complexity and incompleteness.

Here are some important aspects of Approximate Thinking Management:

  • Objective Fuzziness : Do we really know what we want to do? How flexible should we be with this? Sometimes (too much) specificity can be detrimental to ingenuity, while excessive ambiguity might yield confusion.
  • Fuzzy Roles : How can we integrate Approximation into requirements and how can we demarcate the boundaries of what needs to be done ?
  • Approximating Analytics, Knowledge, Wisdom : How should we accumulate and manage knowledge, and how can we combine clarity and approximation to articulate practical strategies?
  • Approximate Resources : What are (all) the resources we can utilize? How can we be creative with resource classification and utilization?

The discussions in this course describe the above, and apply the frameworks introduced in the book, in order to avoid ‘the dark side’ of illusions while utilizing the creative potential of Approximate Thinking.