A business woman standing at a flip chart explaining concepts to a small multi-racial team

How To Measure Ambiguity

13 June 2023

Ambiguity is a common challenge in organisations, particularly in times of change or disruption.

When information is unclear or uncertain, it can lead to confusion, inefficiency, and missed opportunities.

To address this issue, it’s important to measure ambiguity in an organisation so that it can be addressed proactively. Here are some tips on how to measure ambiguity in an organisation:

Identify key areas of ambiguity

Start by asking your team members to identify areas of confusion or frustration in your organisation; these might include unclear roles and responsibilities, inconsistent policies or procedures, or a lack of clear direction from leadership.

Where uncertainty exists, ambiguity can often be found lurking nearby. By identifying the unclear, inconsistent, and confusing areas across the business, you can focus on providing clarity where it is most needed.

Assess organisational culture

Assessing an organisation’s culture to determine tolerance levels of ambiguity can help inform leaders of the likely acceptance or resistance to change initiatives.

The culture may be one which values consistency, perfectionism, accuracy and routine over variety, innovation, agility and flexibility. In this instance, you could assume the organisation is risk-averse or resistant to change, which is likely to exacerbate the ambiguity when new initiatives are introduced. Knowing the norms and values of your organisation before embarking on a change program will assist in its design and minimise ambiguity.

Measure communication effectiveness

Effective communication is critical for reducing ambiguity in an organisation. Measuring communication effectiveness can help identify areas where communication falls short, such as infrequent, unclear messaging or inconsistent information.

This can help identify opportunities to improve communication and reduce the impacts of ambiguity across the organisation.

The aim must be to reduce assumptions and provide up-to-date, relevant information; this reduces the ambiguity associated with ineffective communications.

Analyse performance metrics

Ambiguity can have a significant impact on organisational performance.

By analysing key performance metrics, such as employee engagement, productivity, or customer satisfaction, you can identify areas where ambiguity may be having a negative impact.

By understanding where the confusion or lack of clarity is having an adverse impact on employee or customer experience, you can better prioritise efforts to reduce ambiguity and improve performance.

In conclusion, ambiguity can be a major challenge for organisations. Still, it can be addressed and even turned into an opportunity by proactively measuring it and taking steps to reduce its impact. By identifying key areas of ambiguity across your business practices, behaviours and ways of operating, organisations can create a clearer, more effective and efficient work environment.

The Indicator of Ambiguity (I Am)® is a scientifically validated psychometric assessment that enables organisations to easily measure the level of ambiguity at an individual,  departmental or organisational level.

Kerryn Fewster

Kerryn is the Founder and Director of AdaptiQ Minds. She has consulted extensively in the area of Transition and Transformation. She places emphasis on strategy development and solution implementation to minimise people and operational impacts associated with major change.

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