Being Comfortable with Uncertainty – Hari Ganapathy, PGP 2009 by Aakash Parikh

IIM Bangalore hosted the third webinar of the series in collaboration with five other B-schools – IIMA, IIMC, IIML, XLRI, FMS. The guest for the session was Mr. Hari Ganpathy, 2009 Alum of IIMB.

Hari has done BSc Physics as his undergraduate course, where he was a gold medallist. Hari then worked with Cognizant before joining IIM Bangalore for his MBA.
After completing MBA, Hari joined Inmobi, which provided him the entrepreneurial spirits while coming from a middle-class family and both parents working in the government sector. His stint at Inmobi offered him the courage and passion for starting something of his own – which led to the creation of Picture Trail. Pickyourtrail is an online application that helps travel lovers personalize their travel plans.
Before we dissect uncertainty and ways of dealing with it, we should understand the difference between uncertainty and risk. In risk, you can guess the outcome, but in uncertainty, you cannot. Risk can be said to be an uncertain event in which chances of occurrence can be predicted and measured whereas, uncertainty can also be said to be an uncertain event in which chances of occurrence cannot be predicted and measured.
Hence, we can pay a premium to dilute risk. However, we cannot pay any dividends to overcome uncertainty. Then, what should be the steps to overcome uncertainty? A strategy is used in decision making – let it be a 2×2 matrix or a psychographic to make decisions; these are various types of strategies that are used to arrive at conclusions. So, we should use different decision-making strategies to overcome and dilute uncertainty.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of situations under which we can deploy strategies for decision making:

  1. When we are aware of what is going to happen for sure: In such a scenario, we can quickly arrive at the required steps to address that challenge—example: When a new player enters a market.
  2. Situations, when we can predict something, is going to happen, but not sure what is the probability of that happening. Here, we need to make decisions based on anticipated situations and the associated probabilities.
  3. The final situation is one that is getting created from scratch – for example, Uber. We can never predict that such a market is getting created and becomes extremely difficult to prepare contingency measures. Having said that, these kinds of market activities are quite uncommon and could be overlooked in the analysis if there are no strong signals.
    These are the three ways in which we can look at decision making. And to be comfortable with making decisions under uncertainty, we can follow some thumb rules to make the process smoother:
  4. Overcommunication – always helps while managing a team, especially over the virtual mode of work. It clears out the slightest of confusion which could have a potentially adverse effect on the business.
  5. Transparency – being open and honest reduces information asymmetry and provides ample knowledge to all stakeholders to make the right decision.
  6. Taking decisions quickly – We need to have a clear internal compass as to what is right and wrong to steer quickly in the right direction. Not defining the end goal might lead a team to a tangent, and that might not be healthy for the overall company. Hence, keeping a clear vision as to what is required and what is not helps make quick decisions and turnaround early.
  7. Be for the purpose – In any given situation, after a point we cannot control the outcome. In these times, as long as you are giving 100 percent, that’s the best you can do for the purpose you are trying to serve.
Aakash Parikh, PGP 2021

This webinar has been documented by Aakash Parikh, who is a second year PGP student at IIMB.