The Art And Science In Business

Artistic paintbrushes and palette knifes on an old wooden palette

By: Jordan Daykin original article on Forbes.com

“Business is creative. It’s like painting. You start with a blank canvas. You can paint anything, anything, and there, right there, is your first problem. For every good painting you might turn out, there are a zillion bad paintings just aching to drip off your brush,” believes Richard Branson in Business Stripped Bare. Photographer and author, David Bayles, wrote in Art and Fear, “One of the basic and difficult lessons every artist must learn is that even the failed pieces are essential.” Art is the creative expression of knowledge, like the composer, Stephen Sondheim, said, “Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” According to Jennifer Wang, contributor for entrepreneur.com “Entrepreneurship is an irrational pursuit. Founding a company, much less one that could “change the world,” entails insane amounts of risk, ridiculously low chances of success and zero work-life balance.”

Science is an approach to acquiring knowledge, it is the intellectual study, through observation and experimentation. Albert Einstein said, “If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research.” Companies know that big data and analytics are beneficial to their business. The chaos of data at our fingertips needs analyzing for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves. Experimentation of the knowledge gathered is also essential. This is to see what happens when a business tries something new, if the extra units sold was a result of the marketing campaign or if the return customers were due to offering more customer support.

Science is the use of specific information and facts to guide the business. Frederick Taylor, the first management consultant, used techniques borrowed from botanists and chemists, such as analysis, observation, synthesis, rationality, and logic to develop his theory of scientific management. He evolved management strategies for a more efficient way of working and required some members of staff to “develop scientific methods for doing work.”

Where Science is the system of acquiring knowledge, art is the application of knowledge. Art can be defined as requiring a skill to conduct any human activity and as we are well aware, running a business involves a multitude of skills. In his book, Bayles stated “Art making involves skill that can be learned. The conventional wisdom here is that while ‘craft’ can be taught, ‘art’ remains a magical gift bestowed only by the gods. Not so.” Entrepreneur, Steve Blank, believes founders of a company can best be defined as a composer, “they see something no one else does. And to help them create it from nothing, they surround themselves with world-class performers.”

Just like artists portraying their imagination, entrepreneurs work to make their dreams a reality and innovators create new ideas. The imagination has to be influenced by something, with access to the internet and all the data available there, as well as social media and how easy it is to be informed by others around the world, it’s easy to find inspiration. It is just a case of working through the chaos of data and bring order to it through analytics and observation.

Business is an on-going cycle of art and science. Analyzing data that influences the imagination to create something new and then experimenting with the idea to see how and if it works in the market. It goes on with gathering information, creating from it and experimenting with it, a never-ending balance of art and science.

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