Craving Certainty

20151104_145251In the last post I noted that it would be good to better understand where this drive for certainty may be coming from since it is so prevalent in mainstream understanding of organizations and within the OD world that works with these organizations.

Certainty however, was not ‘invented’ by OD or any other person or group. Certainty is a very important aspect of any living being. Without certainty of various forms and types we would cease to exist at all; let alone exist to question why certainty is a big OUCH! in our organizational lives.

We are going to look at the idea of certainty from three different perspectives:

  1. Biological
  2. Social evolution
  3. Social process

From the biological perspective we will use some of the work of Antonio Damasio and specifically some of the ideas from his book Self Comes To Mind. From a social evolution standpoint we will use some of the ideas of Yuval Noah Harari and his book Sapiens. For social process we will use some of the ideas from Norbert Elias and his book The Society of Individuals.

There are of course countless other perspectives on this idea of certainty. I have picked these three because they have been very important to me in shaping my thinking regarding how organizations function and in particular how mainstream thinking of organizations is problematic.

In addition, while we will not go into very much depth of the people and ideas mentioned above, I think there are critical ideas that can be extracted from these works that are very relevant to what has happened to this idea of certainty.

As noted above, certainty is fundamental to our existence, it is not something we can ‘choose’ to do without. The three perspectives we will use to look at certainty will establish this point. From there we can look at what has then happened to this idea of certainty that makes it problematic in organizations and what we might be able to do reduce these problems. What might we be able to do to reduce the OUCH!

I am keeping this post short to introduce where we are going. Plus you may want to investigate some of the links above.

We are on the home stretch of OUCH! It is time to begin to put it all together in some coherent fashion. That coherence begins with understanding where our craving for certainty comes from.

However; a question for you to consider. What do you ‘want’ to be certain about?


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