When it comes to growth, prosperity and wellbeing, the next 50 years are shaped by three interrelated aspects: uncertainties, assumptions and megatrends (according to Dubai Future Foundation, 2022). While assumptions and megatrends are relatively stable and known, how the uncertainties will materialise is less so. On a continuum, uncertainties can radically distort socio-economic and environmental conditions. And for each uncertainty, there is a range of conceivable outcomes. They differ from time to time, and place to place, and can have a dramatic impact on growth, prosperity and wellbeing. And as for assumptions and megatrends (and other global trends), they are interconnected and can have multiple implications for growth, prosperity and wellbeing.

At PCMA’s Convening EMEA 2023 in Copenhagen, we listened to Nathan Furr and Susannah Harmon Furr talking about their book The Upside of Uncertainty: A Guide to Finding Possibility in the Unknown. Nathan Furr is Professor of Strategy at Insead, the Business School for the World, in Paris, and an expert in innovation and technology strategy. Susannah Harmon Furr is an entrepreneur, designer, art historian, and contrarian. Their book is a science-backed guide for navigating and thriving through uncertainty, based on interviews and insights from world-renowned leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, artists and creatives.

The authors have interviewed hundreds of people along with pioneering research in psychology, innovation and behavioural economics. The couple models techniques, and reflections for seeing the upside of uncertainty, developing a vision for what to do next, and opening ourselves up to new positions.

In our fast-paced, ever-changing world, uncertainty is on the rise. We face it every day. But we need to be taught the techniques to navigate it well. The Upside of Uncertainty provides the inspiration, tools, and strategies to thrive through the inevitable plot twists in your life and career. It is as vital, as the Dubai insights and the Furrs’ book, to talk to your network mates worldwide to get their perspectives on their uncertainties.

There are many synonyms for uncertainty; occasions and different contexts determine which word you use to nuance your language and get your message across. Almost everything we do involves words. What we say matters and some words are more impactful than others. It’s helpful to remember that the right words used at the right time can have immense power and drive action. For example, instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: as “Well, you could …” induces all concerned to recognise that there might be other possibilities.

Many of us have experienced the power of magic words and how words can share knowledge and insights. Words not only convey facts and opinions, they describe how confident we are in these facts and beliefs, which shape how we are perceived and our influence.

The impact of words can get organisations and individuals to see things differently, and some words even change the world.