Logic without good sense leads to catastroph

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Two weeks ago  I attended a graduation ceremony. In such events I often find speeches boring, but this time I was really interested to ear the message that would be delivered to youn managers/entrepreneurs who will need to find their way in the business world in a time of crisis.

Finally I liked the way things were said, wih lucidity. I left with the title of a book I should buy and a very meaningful quotation : “logic without good sense leads to catastroph”.

What’s logic ? It’s what allows to draw certain consequences from established facts, most of times upon an experience based reasoning.

Good sense ? It’s what makes possible for people to realize that something obvious isn’t that obvious, that a good a priori choice will have negative effects, that avoiding complexity isn’t always a good thing. And that, sometimes, logic has its limits.

Logic is reassuring. It puts things into systems, into equations and gives us certainties about what the future will be. It’s consecrated bread for companies. We earned so much this year so if we do the same the same year we’ll earn as much money. A salesperson had such figures this year, so he’ll do at least the same next year. This way of doing things always worked…so it will work again. If an option matches such scoring criterias it will increase our performance…

Good sense tells us logic does not always work. Examples : the 100m world record is improved by 1/10 second every year. Logic tells us one day people will run the 100m in zero seconds and will break the sound barrier. Good sense tells us it’s impossible. Logic tells us a salesperson car improve his performance by 10% a year. Good sense tells us one day he’ll reach a ceiling unless you are ready to  assume one people would be, one day, able to generate the equivalent of French GDP by selling peanuts at the corner of the street.

Logic, when applied to performace, makes us want to brings everything back to a linear function. So companies make promises and built models based on that. Good senses makes us say performance is rather a curve which asymptotic character is often forgotten. It tends with more and more difficulties to something but never reaches it. Do you remember when you studied functions limits in methematics class.

The two functions seem to coincide during a long time, during decades. Sometimes the performance curve can even be better than what’s expected. But the day comes then they cross each other, split. And what happen then ?

Talking about economy it causes what we’ve been experiencing for some weeks. By inventing mecanisms that are supposed to promise an endlessy growing profitability people are trying to run a 100m race in less than zero secondes. We have to assume that a conitnuous 100% yearly profitability doesn’t exist or that, in a world of interdependances, it will b make possible to the detriment of something else. And, because of interdependances, something will break.

Talking about enterprises, that make people invest more and more money and time to turn a curve into a line that is like trying to square the circle. One day the expected performance is not there anymorte then companies try to reorganize, put more pressure one people, lay off, break the machine although it was the roadmap and the expectations that were wrong.
Performance curve will always be a curve, but it may be possible to improve some of its variables. For example by working on its “socialization” that’s to say being more efficient on collective tasks. It won’t turn lead into gold but may be a way to do more at a global scale without breaking the machine at the individual level. Fixed or falsified indicators and figures, defered but not anihilated risk, masses “supervision” positions in order to convince oneself (and the others) that things are under control. Today we can see the result.

Someone even suggest me the idea of doping. Without even talking of medical coping which is a real point for many executives that are asked to reach an unreachable performance level, there’ s an administrative dopong :

Logic, in a corporate context, means being as effective as possible. Good sense is knowing not to ask too much, not believing everything’s possible, not saying “take everything today, don’t care about what’s left for tomorrow” because all that means value destruction.

Sustainable performance  ? Sustainable management ? It seems that economy, social and all that is about business begin to converge. Business as a purpose in people-centric organizations ? Nothing’s better than a hangover to feel like restarting from a healthy basis.

Performance durable ? Management durable ? J’ai comme l’impression que l’économique, le social, et tout ce qui fait l’entreprise commence à converger. Le business comme objectif et les hommes au premier plan ? Rien de tel qu’une bonne gueule de bois pour avoir envie de repartir sur des bases saines.

Tags: économie , crise , entrepreneuriat , finance , logique , Management , organisation , people-centric , performance , réseaux , Ressources Humaines