Opinion

Management is much more than a science - HBR
TradeBriefs Editorial From the Editor's Desk

Management is much more than a science - HBR
You can't chart a course for the future or bring about change merely by analyzing history. We would suggest, for instance, that the behavior of customers will never be transformed by a product whose design is based on an analysis of their past behavior. Yet transforming customer habits and experiences is what great business innovations do. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and other computing pioneers created a brand-new device that revolutionized how people interacted and did business. The railroad, the motor car, and the telephone all introduced enormous behavioral and social shifts that an analysis of prior data could not have predicted. To be sure, innovators often incorporate scientific discoveries in their creations, but their real genius lies in their ability to imagine products or processes that simply never existed before. The real world is not merely an outcome determined by ineluctable laws of science, and acting as if it is denies the possibility of genuine innovation. A scientific approach to business decision making has limitations, and managers need to figure out where those limitations lie.

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