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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Paradox of Ideal

When I was in high school, I used to read about ideal gas in my Chemistry book. Well, as the case was – and still is – there is nothing like ideal gas in this world. Similar is the case with management and management education. There are many ideal things yet in real world there is nothing like ideal. Two years into the big bad world of business management, I can confidently say that everything tagged as ideal is non-existent in the real world. Ideal is nothing more than plain theory which is far different from reality.

Then why study and revere ideal? Because ideal provides a perspective to look at things. It acts like a lens to see things more objectively. Without the knowledge of ideal, we may stray frequently into the already chaotic real world. But total dependence on ideal to take various decisions is nothing less than foolhardy and so is the desire to strive to be ideal.

The real world is vastly different from the world of perfect case studies and immaculate theories developed by management pundits. It’s fairly easier to sit in a calm classroom and slip into the CEO’s shoes and utter all the perfect solutions that the CEO should have taken to save his company than actually being the CEO and taking decisions that affect thousands of people, the government, the environment, the profits, and the shareholders. Anyway, it’s always easier to do post-mortem than do the treatment and save a life. Ideal is basically the result of post-mortem. It’s not real but based on the things that happened and analysis of why they happened. As long as the real world moves just like it moved in the past or historically, ideal seems to be doing well. But real world doesn’t move like that. It seldom repeats the same pattern that it followed in the past. This unpredictability results in the ideal becoming a chimera. It was perfect in a particular condition or time, but since the world and situation changes every moment, it no longer fits in perfectly to solve the reality of the present.

Ideal is based on a predetermined set of conditions. It is literally linear in nature and fairly predictable. But in real world, two things never have same conditions. Moreover, real world is complex and non-linear, where there is multi-dimensional interplay of conditions. No single theory fits the situation. Due to this complex nature of reality, finding solutions become a matter of looking at the situation from perspective of a number of ideal situations and then thinking on the feet to find the solution that seems to be the most optimal. But it’s never a case of applying the ideal solution as it is and then relaxing.

So what’s the lesson? The lesson is simple – every situation has a unique solution. The key perhaps lies in looking at every situation from the eyes of various ideal situations and solutions, and then think on one’s feet to come up with a customized approach to handling the situation. Nothing works in isolation. Sometimes many ideal perspectives need to be combined to come up with customized solutions.

If ideal becomes real, this world would be a boring place due to its predictability and calmness. But I’m certain that it is not going to happen ever. So relax and face the chaotic real world to generate customized solutions to live problems.

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Comments on "Paradox of Ideal"

 

Blogger Ajit Chouhan said ... (5:38 PM) : 

Excellent stuff.

I guess history is replete with instances of rags to riches stories.

Sometimes I feel management education is waste of time, money...start a chai shop it'll give you more businesss insights.

Business is all about knowing people and predicting people behaviour....

 

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