Learn More About Nathan Furr
Most people – especially leaders – view uncertainty as a negative, something anxiety-inducing, stressful, even paralyzing. But what if uncertainty could be transformed to produce a wellspring of new ideas and fresh approaches, while turning fear into courage, paralysis into resilience, and converting change-resistant people into adaptive, risk-taking innovators?
This is not dream thinking. It is based on the actionable, research-backed framework developed and taught by renowned INSEAD Professor and corporate advisor Nathan Furr, a global authority on leadership, strategy, digital transformation, and disruptive innovation – and one of the world’s foremost experts on managing uncertainty.
Furr’s latest co-authored book, “The Upside of Uncertainty: A Guide to Finding Possibility in the Unknown”(Harvard Business Review Press, July 2022), is based on his “Uncertainty Capability” framework which he teaches to organizations during advisory meetings, executive education courses, interactive workshops and customized keynotes. He currently leads a new initiative, the Uncertainty Science Center, aimed at discovering the frameworks and tools for navigating the age of uncertainty.
“We all want possibility, growth and transformation, but all great achievement in our lives, or the world, come only after we face uncertainty,” explains Furr, who has helped major firms including Google, Microsoft, Johnson and Johnson, Kimberley Clark and Citi, among others. “My framework takes something as abstract as uncertainty and makes it concrete. It’s a holistic view of how uncertainty can be leveraged using tools that help bring down the temperature of the uncertainty we feel and raise the limit of what we think we can do so we have the courage and resilience to calmly step into new things and take action. I have witnessed firsthand how it can create powerful turnarounds in organizations and individuals.”
Dealing with uncertainty in some form has been a central theme in Furr’s ongoing research and the books he’s co-authored, including “The Innovator’s Method,” “Leading Transformation” and “Innovation Capital.” In “Leading Transformation,” Furr outlines the frameworks and tools he uses – such as strategic narratives, artifact trails and future KPIs – to help organizations embrace and invent an uncertain future. In “The Innovators Method,” he explains how companies can develop innovative leadership, low-cost experimentation processes and an agile culture in order to create new growth opportunities in an uncertain world. And “Innovation Capital” shows leaders how they can win support for new ideas by creating an environment that fuels experimental thinking. “The Upside of Uncertainty” builds on his previous work, offering 30+ practical tools for finding opportunity in uncertainty, and getting to the root of what holds a company or an individual back from achieving a desired outcome.
“In my research, I’ve interviewed innovators, founders, CEOs, and Nobel Prize winners to understand how they learned to navigate the unknown. I’ve also studied others who deal with the unknown, including paramedics, gamblers, surfers, and startup investors,” wrote Furr in his 2020 Harvard Business Review article, “You’re Not Powerless in the Face of Uncertainty,” just as the pandemic began upending the world. “What I’ve learned is that, although part of our capacity to deal with the unknown is innate, a larger portion is learned. Those who develop this ‘uncertainty capability’ are more creative, more successful, and better able to turn uncertainty into possibility.”
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Nathan Furr leads INSEAD’s technology strategy, digital transformation and innovation courses. He is also the founder or serves as an advisor to numerous corporations and startups in the health care, clean technology, professional services, internet, retail and financial services industries. His research has been published in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Forbes and Inc., and in academic journals such as Strategic Management Journal and Organization Science. He earned his doctorate from the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford University.
Nathan Furr is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Finding Opportunity in Uncertainty: An Interactive Workshop
Uncertainty may seem like a prevalent theme lately, but it is certainly not new. Change and disruption have always been part of our professional or personal lives. How we react to and reframe uncertainty determines how well we are able to navigate the unknown, move through changes and identify new opportunities – in any new circumstance.
“Every new possibility comes with uncertainty. Uncertainty has possibility in it,” explains renowned INSEAD Professor and corporate advisor Nathan Furr, a global authority on leadership, strategy, digital transformation and disruptive innovation, and one of the world’s foremost experts on managing uncertainty. During this interactive workshop, which can be scheduled as a half-day, full-day or two-day program, Furr teaches his holistic framework for developing uncertainty capability. Drawing from his latest book, “The Upside of Uncertainty: A Guide to Finding Possibility in the Unknown,” which uncovers how some of the world’s most skilled leaders and innovators successfully navigate the unknown, he teaches participants tools for reframing uncertainty so they are better able to move through and leverage change. He covers such areas as risk assessment (versus rolling the dice), change mindset, emotional hygiene, reality check, resilience, ambiguity tolerance, and how to prime, prepare and take action. Participants come away with tangible tools for finding opportunities in uncertainty, and a powerful ability to strategically navigate the unknown with courage and confidence.
Click here to see possible workshop formats: Creating Growth Through Innovation