What does doubt have to do with management?

Via Johnnie Moore, I like this quote from a blog "that draws on the natural and social sciences to enquire into stability and change in organisations."

I like it because it goes to an ability to live in the question long enough to draw meaningful conclusions, and is at odds, as the author points out, with a long standing preference for intellect over experience in philosophy. Not only might it prove useful to management, but a little less certainty - read: an appreciation for human limits - would be a welcome development in a talk-first culture that seems inured to boast and bombast.

Any creative act begins with uncertainty:

I have been arguing that the discomfort that people feel if something isn’t completely nailed down in advance often prevents them from dwelling long enough with experience to work experimentally. There is rush to define, to plan out in advance, to idealise and to make certain and this is likely to prevent innovative ways of working to which organisations aspire. I have been making an alternative argument that without improvisation, spontaneity and risk there can be no innovation.

[the philosopher John] Dewey was interested in experimentation and argued that traditions of thought, such as mainstream philosophy, have conventionally been suspicious of the bodily, the temporal and the experiential, instead preferring Plato’s fixed and pure forms. We are generally encouraged to discover pre-existing ‘truth’, rather than dwell in the messy reality of experience. However, he himself was much less interested in knowledge as a pure and static expression of truth, and more committed to knowing as a form of active enquiry, the idea of constantly opening up experience to further experience. I think this idea of constant doubt and enquiry is especially relevant to managers who are thinking about how to deal with the ever changing patterning of experience in organisations that they have to deal with on a daily basis.

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