Our friends in the financial world have for quite some time used the tools from the world of physics, so why not the realm of management and leadership? As what has me thinking of this is the concept of the “arrow of time” as this is one of the fundamental concepts of physics which support the way the universe works as what is this you ask?
Well in short it says time can only move in one direction as everything which exists moves from “order” to “chaos” and never in reverse. Therefore to steal a cliché, as in “you can never go home” means whatever happens after the arrow passes is an absolute. Yet you’re asking, “what does this mean”; well let’s put forward an analogy to shed some light on this concept.
So let’s start with a ceramic plate, it’s typically going to be symmetrical and smooth till it slips from your wet finger as you attempt to dry it and gravity takes over throwing it to the floor where the force of impact breaks it into a hundred small pieces. As it’s here we see whatever we do we cannot “un-break” the once pristine plate so the arrow of time marches forward leaving us with only shards. Now the bright ones out there are saying, hey wait a minute as why not glue the plate back together!
Ok, dare you to just try as the action to do that will lead to [yet] more chaos as you will wear out or empty the glue container, spill some on the carpet, etc. As you see everything and that means everything you do leads to chaos as while you might achieve order in one area, you’ve now induced it into another as the saying goes there’s no such thing as a free lunch to be had. This also sounds very “zero-sum-ish” does it not? Well of course as anyone who thinks otherwise also believes you can travel faster than the speed of light too (warp drives are only in science fiction as the closer you travel to the speed of light the heavier you become and therefore the more energy you need to travel faster. So to achieve the speed of light, you need an infinite amount of energy).
So what does this mean from a leadership standpoint you ask, well first and foremost its that when something is broke you can’t fix it, only replace it following the Arrow of Time, as this path [typically as in the plate example] uses the least amount of energy in relation to the effected “system”. However remember even with the “new” chaos is still induced as if you hire an existing employee away from another department, that department will experience the “chaos”. So in short we can never, ever remove chaos from the system, we can only manage its location within the system.
So in short Occam’s Razor has been proven true, or maybe better put “made” true by the fact of the Arrow of Time as the simplest solution is always the correct solution…