Strategy and uncertainty
Jane Larsson Executive Director


By Jane Larsson, CIS Executive Director



March no longer looks like any of us would have expected it to. Managing uncertainty is now my most important role—in the face of a virus which has succeeded in disrupting education across the world. How do you manage a virus?

Question mark  people

Not easily, as governments are finding out. Gathering places are under close scrutiny with schools and universities at the fore. UNESCO reports one in five learners are now being kept out of school across the world as they convened a global videoconference of national education officials to look at the barriers and challenges that accompany a move to distance or remote learning.

CIS works across 122 countries. The ripple of closures in our school and university communities during the last month and/or travel bans (in and out) has been swift. What seemed unlikely on one day, becomes likely the next. Amidst the uncertainty of the path of the coronavirus and the differing actions to control it, we are continually monitoring the news and trying to predict what will happen. Most of our events and many school visits for the next three months are now canceled or postponed.

Strategy amidst uncertainty is difficult when we cannot knowingly predict the future. So, what to do? We’ve focused first on taking decisions based on what we do know and can manage. Next, we’ll begin scenario planning, which means predicting and planning for a range of situations, explained in this highly useful interview in Financial Management

Doing this requires certain skill, so we are also exploring how people cope with uncertainty. To help our colleagues work through this, my colleague Cécile Doyen looks at a core competency that has become important for us all: Managing Ambiguity.


Follow and connect with Jane Larsson via Twitter @CISJaneLarsson.

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