We live in the 21st century. By now, we feel, we should have solved life’s mysteries, understood the functioning of the universe and made sure that the only surprises we face are those created for us by other human beings. But that is not so.
The promise of modernism (initiated by the Enlightenment Project) was that we would eventually come to understand this big machine we call the world. Everything should be able to be reduced to its small component parts, each part categorised and investigated and understood, and by so understanding the parts we then understand the whole. Through our understanding we are able to exercise control, and by exercising control we are able to make a better world. That modernist thinking not only applied to Newtonian physics but to almost every human endeavour and especially to business. It was this approach that guided, for instance, Henry Ford in his design of the production line.
But Einstein and quantum physics is changing all of that.
There are many unsolved mysteries in this quantum world. In fact, the more we discover about the world, the more we realise we don’t understand. At the sub atomic level, we’re only just finding out the magnitude of the mysteries we are facing. The same is true in the world of organisational behaviour, people management and development, and business.
If you’re interested, the New Scientist magazine of 19 March 2005, listed 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense. It still makes for fascinating reading.