Embracing Ambiguity: Creating Portals to Enactment and Inquiry
Leadership and Organizational Management Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 106-136
12 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2007 Last revised: 1 Nov 2012
Date Written: October 1, 2008
In a modern era where military professionals, like their civilian counterparts, routinely find themselves facing significant ambiguity, we recognize a vital need to prepare junior officers for the challenges that await them. In our capacity as faculty members (past and present) in the Department of Management at the United States Air Force Academy, we have developed a course over the past twelve years aimed at fostering intellectual curiosity, critical thinking skill and the ability to frame and resolve ill-defined problems. This paper uses various aspects of the course's framework to demonstrate how students are taken on a journey which allows them to experience the dramatic differences made possible by changing one's perspective. Students are pushed into a realm of ambiguity, from which they generally realize that their prior models of a number of systems are fragile and inadequate; further, they come to see that answers, models, and frameworks are enactments which can always be improved upon. Results from the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal indicate that the course improves students' critical thinking abilities. However, the course was not designed to teach students to think critically, but rather to lead them on a journey of self-discovery, forcing them to enact new realities.
Keywords: management education, management, creativity, complexity
JEL Classification: A22, D81
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation