Uncertainty Deconstructed: We Should Have Seen It Coming

Never miss a recording again; click here subscribe to Z/Yen's YouTube account .

Uncertainty is not really uncertainty at all but just demonstrates a lack of foresight, imagination, and vision; as well as an unwillingness to think about the maverick or unthinkable – good and bad - and be ready for it or take advantage of it. If we are to meet the challenges that an everchanging world is throwing at us, then the task of accepting that uncertainty is about exploring the possible, rather than the impossible must be recognised by strategists, policy developers, political leaders, and boards and executive committees across the private, public and civil society sectors. This is highly resonant in the current disruptive and VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) times – magnified by the impact of the pandemic, ongoing digital change and increasing inequality.

The term ‘unknown–unknowns’ is ubiquitous, albeit most future uncertain events do not fall into this category. However, it has been used to absolve decision makers from challenge and even rightful criticism especially post-event – in hindsight. Whilst there may have been good oversight of the ‘known’ aspects or what is extrapolated from the past, poor insight and poor foresight are the prime culprits. Most future uncertainties are ‘known-unknowns’ or inevitable surprises. It is our reliance on the past, accepted models and lack of accepting alternative , even challenging perspectives, which limits our thinking and actions.

This re-positioning of uncertainties can help mitigate the impact of such risks through better foresight-aware contingency planning. As a result, the enemy is not uncertainty itself but our lack of imagination when trying to visualise the future. Most questions now are behavioural. The next industrial revolution is more psychological. As a result, we must expand traditional solution spaces by better embracing creativity and psychology rather than relying on the limiting spaces dominated by metrics and past models.

To better understand uncertainty, we must deconstruct it and get to grips with its component parts. Three main questions are posed: 1) What are the main structural components that make up the conditions under which uncertainty operates? 2) What scenario lenses can be used when exploring uncertainty? 3) What behavioural factors do we need to consider when analysing the human responses to uncertainty? Practitioners, having to deal with making better decisions under uncertainty, will find the webinar a useful guide.


Bruce Garvey provides specialist support for organisations faced with high levels of uncertainty and complexity, addressing problems and issues at a strategic level. His knowledge base allows him to address client problems and issues at a strategic level via a Systems Thinking (Holistic) approach.

He has developed proprietary decision support software to help structure complex problems and which has been licenced to organisations such as NATO and Anglian Water. The software and its accompanying process, helps decision makers to reduce often large potential problems to a much smaller set of viable options.

Buttressing this specialist knowledge, Bruce has over 45 years’ experience within the major corporate and SME sectors, performing a wide range of roles as a senior business executive. His earlier career was spent with a major multi-national, (Xerox), in a number of staff and operational posts in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. This was followed by extensive exposure to SME sector issues as a start-up entrepreneur, turn-around specialist and NED.

He has published papers, presented at conferences and run workshop based courses on his specialist area and is a member of a number of working groups and networks in the Uncertainty domain. In addition to the PhD from Imperial College London, he has a MBA from Bayes (formerly Cass) Business School, London, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Economic Integration from Stockholm University, Sweden and a BSc (Hons) in Sociology from London University. He is a member of the British Operational Research Society, a member of Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs), a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He has been a visiting Senior Teaching Fellow at the Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London and has run practitioner courses at the Operational Research Society.

Dowshan Humzah is an independent board director and strategic advisor who has delivered transformative business growth, industry firsts, digital innovation and talent diversity, having held executive roles with RSA Insurance, Virgin Media, Orange, Procter & Gamble and four digital start-ups.

He has a multi-faceted career with a portfolio of board, advisory and consulting roles. As a non-executive, he focuses much of his efforts on improving performance and quality via board composition and representation. His directorships include Chair UK Advisory Board, Board Apprentice Global; Member of Council, Gresham College; and Chair, Overcoming MS.

Core to his consultancy roles, Dowshan shows organisations how to enhance customer and commercial deliverables by thinking differently to achieve transformative results. This is facilitated by his cognitive diversity and application of creative consulting, where he combines traditional, linear, left-brain frameworks with a more creative, oblique, right-brain approach thereby expanding possibility, imagination and the resulting solution space.

His background and journey explain his passion for ensuring ‘access to opportunity’ for ‘underestimated’ groups and advocacy for diversity of POETS (Perspective, Outlook, Experience, Thought, Sector and Social Background) as a business imperative cutting across and uniting all characteristics, protected or not.

He has Executive Education from LBS; is a graduate of The LSE, a Fellow of The Institute of Directors and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Monday, 03 October 2022

11:00 - 11:45 BST


Book Now

Share this event on social media:


  • Bruce Garvey
    Dr Bruce Garvey
    Managing Director & Founder
    Strategy Foresight
  • Dowshan Humzah
    Dowshan Humzah
    Independent Board Director & Strategic Advisor
  • michael Mainelli.png
    Professor Michael Mainelli
    Z/Yen Group