In my view, one of the more problematic cultural norms that recently developed is the division between science and religion. It is presented as an either-or option. Belief in religion means you are at odds with scientific discoveries. A scientific outlook means you must reject religion.
This cultural dichotomy is dripping into everyday business during this time of transition – the ascendancy or the ‘rational’ over the ‘irrational’. The explosion of data, business intelligence and worldwide access to information is presented to business leaders as, to be intentionally paradoxical, the Holy Grail of reason. With the right people, tools and processes the correct business decisions will become self evident. Corporations will enjoy a localized Age of Reason. Data driven decisions will reduce those pesky irrational tendencies of humans for the benefit of all.
It opens the door to allow leaders to abdicate deep decision making and simply react to what the data tells them. It also gives them a shield to hide behind if a decision goes wrong or has negative, unintended consequence. It wasn’t me, it was the data!
Of course, people are simultaneously rational and irrational. And while all of this knowledge will change how decisions are made, they are still, for now, made by people. Philosophers have been debating for millenia about what is the absolute truth or does it even exist. Business leaders will not be presented the absolute truth through colorful dashboards. Leaders that balance this new found knowledge with the natural, irrational needs of people will be the most successful.