I, The Absolute

Archive for June 23rd, 2005

Synthesis as a larger objective

Posted by itheabsolute on June 23, 2005

Life does not understand separation of disciplines. Problems are problems. They are not marketing problems or strategy problems or economic problems or emotional problems. Given this, it appears that there can be no one way of explaining a problem. As our strategy professor was mentioning in the class today, who knows if Agassi’s being bald was, perhaps, one reason why he performs well. There is no way one can explain his performance using any language of sport or for that matter any discipline. Given this, the question that “is knowledge attainable” arises. This was the question, which plagued Philosophers for long centuries. While other scientists have amassed mounds and mounds of knowledge, Philosophers are still debating if knowledge is possible. But when you question whether knowledge itself is possible, then no progress could be made.

An easy way was to just divide what was happening in nature into many disciplines so that observation, explanation and understanding becomes easy. Today, this phase of sub-dividing disciplines into specialized areas has gone to the extent that people choose such narrow topics to complete research that sometimes it looks quite funny. The division of knowledge, or what is knowable, has been so extreme that it is well nigh impossible to integrate all these sub-divisions to make sense out of a situation. A problem in a firm is explained by a marketing guy in marketing terms or if he wants to put blame on other divisions, then in operations terms or even strategic terms. Even to analyze the issue, only one framework is used, because no one knows the entire picture as no one has ever studied all subjects in full, because studying all subjects is humanly impossible. Since all that is required to be known is not known at any point of time, a problem is only solved at a very sub-optimal level. Solving a problem at sub-optimal level only further complicates the problem. Consequently, it appears that specialization, while it has helped improve efficiency, has caused greater misery, which is not easily observable.

These days, my larger problem has to do with synthesis and not analysis. How do I integrate all the knowledge that I have gained in the last sixty days at one point to look at a problem and explain it. When I am in a strategy class, all that occurs to me is a Porter model or a Prahalad’s Core competence; but when I move to marketing class, all that occurs to me is 4P or 5C model or at best BCG matrix. Regression analysis is about statistics and not a tool that I can use in marketing or strategy, to better understand problems or even define them. I realize that the best effort I can make in the coming terms should circle about synthesizing all that I have learnt into one framework, which can define/explain a problem in a holistic manner and hence can provide a sustainable solution. Easier said than done.

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