Like scientists, many business folks have a deep-rooted belief that if they have all the information — all the data — they’ll be able to come up with the precise solution.
We want to believe things don’t happen by chance. Albert Einstein said, “God does not play dice with the universe.”
Maybe it’s in our DNA. We want things to be one way or the other: science versus art, determinism versus chance, nature versus nurture, left or right, up or down, black or white. You get the picture.
Blending data and creativity.
In the business world, there are those who are guided by data. There are those who follow their gut.
In the business of marketing, we have a bifurcation: creative-driven content people versus the mathematical-driven data geeks. This has caused polarization within organizations.
Consider that Leonardo da Vinci was an amazing inventor and at the same time an incredibly gifted artist. Salvador Dali had an extensive personal library of books on science. His brilliant art was styled by his passion for science.
Remember Isaac Newton and the apple? His scientific achievements, including the laws of motion, dominated our thinking for centuries. At the same time, he believed in Bible prophecy and sorcery!
The best strategists, the best media folks, the best creatives all can cross the schism between art and science. Merging data and creative is necessary.
In addition to artists and writers, today’s new creative class includes the software coders and information science people, among others. This new creative class studies mathematics, philosophy and music appreciation and sometimes even theology. They are both the Ying and the Yang.
It’s not either/or. It’s both — and at the same time. Rather than stifling or restricting the creative, the data side can stimulate, focus and provide direction for the creative. Collaboration between diverse teams - merging data and creative - has proven successful for this reason.
Science endeavors to find and document how the universe works. It has been a messy path and likely will continue being messy.
Poor Einstein’s theory worked in the macro level, but not with quantum mechanics, the micro level. He struggled until his death to come up with the unified field theory to reconcile both the micro and macro. He never did.
Reconciling both sides of running a business can be messy, too.
A good business requires management. We can’t manage what we can’t measure. So we try to measure everything we can. We live by the numbers. From an operational standpoint, businesses run on data.
If the goal is operational excellence, then the deterministic or scientific view is the best path.
Managing people is where the train can go off the track. That’s where it gets gray and messy.
Communications with customers, employees and other stakeholders are more difficult to manage than the things we can count. People respond in ways we can’t quite measure as easily as we can measure data — at least not yet.
It’s the quantum mechanics of business. It’s the probabilistic — the more uncertain side of the business. We don’t like to hear that. Yet, quantum mechanics brought us innovations like MRI machines, the transistors in our smartphones and computers, and nuclear power.
It has been more than 60 years since Einstein’s passing and we still haven’t figured it out. The answer might be that some things just don’t follow a formula. Instead they operate by some form of probabilities.
Communication is more of an art and less of a science. There is science to it, yes, but it is more art.
Doesn’t this apply to just about everything?
A surgeon might have close to a quarter century of school and has learned and developed great skill, yet to be the very best of surgeons, she must also be a very talented artist.
Ask a world-famous chef how he makes a particular dish, and he’ll give you the recipe. You go home and follow the recipe to the letter. Yet, it just doesn’t come out the same. He has added some “art” that the recipe can’t translate.
It should not come as a surprise the combination of good data and good creative is the key to success. We need the insights from data to guide the work that results in selling things.
It’s obvious. It’s common sense. We need both to win in this highly competitive marketplace.
The path to the head is through the heart. Merging data and creative will help us get there.
World-famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking took issue with Einstein when he said, “Not only does God play dice, but he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.”