Physics is a science.
Geology is a science.
Chemistry is a science.
What is Science?
“Science: (from Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. In an older and closely related meaning, “science” also refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. A practitioner of science is known as a scientist.” source wikipedia
Kung-Fu is Not a Science
(This post is not really about Kung Fu, it is about Management)
Before we dive into management lets look at Kung-Fu. Or boxing. Or WWF Wrestling. Or rugby.
There might be a man who is studying every book on kung-fu in the library. He is the most knowledgeable person in the world on the facts, the history, the movement theory, the differences between the specific schools of thought. Imagine he takes the floor in an international full-contact kung-fu tournament. I think he’d be smashed in the nose within 5 seconds and on his butt on the floor in less than 10.
He could tell you why he got smashed in the nose and why he was delivered to the floor. He could explain how one should respond. But he still got smashed in the face and is out of the tournament.
Back to Chemistry…
Chemistry is a science. Let’s look at it:
Chemistry is the study of how atoms and molecules react. Water is H2O. That means it has 2 hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom. All over the world, billions and billions and billions of H2O molecules fill our rivers, seas and oceans.
A hydrogen atom reacts pretty consistently. Chemists can repeat experiments and the hydrogen atom responds just as it did for Marie Curie in the 1890s, as it did for Antoine Lavoiser in the 1770s and repeated by innumerable kids in adolescent chemistry classroom.
Marie Curie dealt with atoms.
- An atom doesn’t react differently when he has been going through a difficult divorce and has underlying issues with his father.
- An atom doesn’t react differently when he has had a big loss on the horses over the weekend.
- An atom doesn’t react differently because he is frustrated with his relationship and feels unloved.
Kung Fu deals with human beings…
- A human being reacts differently when he has been out for a big night with his mates.
- A human being reacts differently when worried that their relationship is falling apart.
- A human being reacts very differently at midday than at nine pm after a stressful afternoon.
Why Does it Matter?
Why do I care? Why does it matter? I think that too many gurus make it sound like if you learnt enough tools and knowledge, you would be able to do a better job in any situation.
Too many gurus promote the kung-fu reader’s approach to management learning.
I think a lot of caring about others and caring about quality results mixed with a little bit of management knowledge is a more powerful mix than little caring, little focus on quality mixed with lots of management knowledge.
Calling it a science makes it sound like a domain of knowledge in the abstract. Maths is knowledge in the abstract. Science is knowledge in the abstract.
Kung-fu is practical wisdom. It is instinctive wisdom based upon hours and hours of stimulus-response, practice in the real.
Management of People is kung-fu type wisdom
Management is a domain of knowledge at the coal face. It is a domain of practical solutions to complex problems with diverse human beings. Libraries are full of nice theories, but businesses are full of complex problems that don’t fit into simple categories.
If you are doing your best in an honest and transparent way and balance your self-oriented questions with a few “what can I do to improve the situation for others?” type questions then you are probably doing a wonderful job.
It is like parenting. The real challenge is not know what the right path might look like, it is to take that enlightened path on the 18th time that your child pushes his sister off of the seat.
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