Time for a better balance
Western societies are based on an extremely mechanistic world view that originates from the early years of the Renaissance, a period during which leading scientists such as René Descartes and Isaac Newton laid the foundations for the current Western scientific principles and methods. This perspective heavily influences the way we view the world within all kinds of disciplines. Whether we are talking about Biology, Economics or Sociology, they all derive from the same mechanistic perspective in which science is dominated by the view that everything is malleable and explicable, and Mathematics has become the language of the only truth. The same holds true for business thinking and methodology and the associated management literature. Organisations are viewed as Lego kits; if you click the right blocks onto the right plate, you will consistently end up with the object displayed on the packaging. In its search for truth, the Western world takes a mechanistic scientific approach; what we cannot measure, we cannot know, and what we cannot measure is not true.
However, this is a very narrow model of truth. The world, including the business world, is so much richer and more complex than the management literature leads us to believe. In that respect, the mechanistic perspective falls a long way short. We now know that reality itself is much richer and more complex, and biology, physics and medical science have all demonstrated this with great clarity. The valuable new insights we’ve gained could be understood as a dynamic perspective; a perspective that assumes the existence of movement, complexity and interaction. It’s a view that surmises probability rather than certainty, autopoiesis instead of manipulability. Within this perspective, the world becomes far less malleable. Control is replaced by self-determination. Development and movement are the characteristic features instead of constant and equilibrium. The field of biology demonstrates the active value of this perspective on a daily basis. Weeds do not grow because they are scheduled to do so, and nobody tells seedlings where to emerge from the ground. Where biology is concerned, evolution rather than manipulability holds true. This evolutionary or dynamic perspective is also applicable and valuable in business and organisations. It provides a view of movement and the elusiveness of internal and external dynamics.
Gaining a richer view of reality requires organisations to meaningfully supplement the mechanistic perspective with the dynamic perspective. And therefore, to achieve better balance thanks to a richer, more authentic view of our organisations.