Consequences of uncertainty.


Uncertainty, I believe, has the effect of holding back progress. Consider when goals are crystal clear you can charge ahead. Recently, I was reminded that early in my career, I was having some difficulty in pinning someone down to agree to something I needed to do--he created a roadblock and I risked missing my deadline. I was so stuck on getting my task done that I consistently followed up.

He eventually emailed, "Ellen, you are a pest!" And added that he meant "pest" in a good way. He wanted to work with me, but it wasn't his priority. But, he said, my persistence "kept him on point." That has always been my way to meet deadlines--to persist. Just ask my children!

Sometime later, I found an article in The Wall Street Journal, "To Be Successful, Be a Pest." I relate this tale, since I believe that with clear goals and a predictable road ahead, things get accomplished. Lacking clarity in the future, such uncertainty often leaves individuals or businesses stuck--even immobile. Which sort of describes life here and now in the U.S.

For example, the article on risk management in this issue by Profs. Barton, Shenkir and Walker lists the risks financial executives say they are currently facing, and uncertainty is cited as the nation's greatest problem. The executives queried said it is difficult to plan and invest efficiently because of the high level of uncertainty.

Consider, a company that exists for the purpose of managing uncertainty and risk is an insurance company--and the cover story profiles Dalynn Hoch, the chief financial officer of Zurich North America, one of the largest U.S. insurers.

What better way to celebrate and communicate the theme of FEI's Summit Leadership Conference than featuring a peer in financial leadership? Hoch, an FEI member, exemplifies the career of a woman with an extraordinary...

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