Context and Flexibility Matter

It depends.

A few years back while studying business at the University of Oxford, a colleague of mine made famous the response, “It depends.” He enjoyed the humor it brought to the classroom, and he was also spot-on. 

We live in a world that is complex, ever changing, and highly competitive. How we think and make decisions today must be more sophisticated than our method 10 years ago. We must adapt more quickly and effectively to new thinking and different challenges and opportunities. We must deeply understand the context in which we live and work, and be highly flexible and practical in our thinking (mental models) and decisions.

Context is the set of circumstances that surround someone or something. Context increases in relevance as volatility increases (and you move from optimal to suboptimal). Understanding and adapting to context increases the likelihood of better decision-making and better results. 

Flexibility is the willingness and ability to change as new information becomes available or as situations (context) change. Flexibility allows us to survive and even thrive during difficult times and to be in a position to leverage new and appropriate opportunities as they arise. Flexibility requires that ego doesn’t get in the way, and that we learn and adapt quickly.

Suboptimal conditions may require greater flexibility and urgency. It may also dictate no action if the risk profile changes from what is acceptable.