Practical philosophy for managers and management

There is only one reason why it is worth reading and/or writing: To manage life better. Better in this context means using as least resource for as much as possible result (Evolutionary Stable Strategy, ESS). Life in this context subsumes all possible domains from everyday life to management of social units like companies, hospitals or states. The tools for such management are provided by practical philosophy. Practical philosophy offers a set of mental tools that are able to grasp reality/issues/events in their holistic totality.

One can manage to drive a car or to execute heart surgery or to cut costs in a company or in a state by using specialized tools (mental and physical) for each mentioned task. But as much as driving a car does not prove that we can manage our everyday life, surgery execution does not enable us to understand a human we are treating and running finances for a company or a state does not mean we manage them. To manage whatever complex task implies a manager that is able not only to understand complexity of indicators that influence behaviour of that what is managed but also able to manage such indicators. If indicators define a task (production, product, event, …) then it is only possible to change how such task (production, product, event…) evolves by forcing a change of such indicators.

And this is a moment in which each manager has to take decisions about which indicators to act upon and which to leave aside since resources that are needed for such manipulation are always limited. In management he has to follow Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) principle. But does this mean that he can use the same principle also in the process of understanding of complexity that surround that what he manages? No.

In selection of indicators manager has to prioritize them. It is self evident that one can prioritize better (more efficiently) with better understanding of complex interrelations behind each indicator. The one that could understand totality of interrelations would manage best. No one single living entity has not only enough mental potential to understand everything but also not enough other resources. So what to do? Are we incapable to manage in principle?

Of course not. For that reason I have written previous post. It is written as if intended for undergraduate philosophy student of logic or ontology. But is in fact written for the purpose of practical philosophy of everyday manager. It gives reassuring simplified explanation of evolutionary biology and neuroscience discoveries about how our mental abilities evolved and are operating in practice. Reassuring because mentioned discoveries unburdened managers to search for explanations rationally each time and all the time. No need. Evolution hard-wired vast majority of management solutions so that we do not have to understand them. But on the other hand that same evolution brought us memes, metal entities that are not hard-wired but produced each time any mental process is performed meaning that each time mental ability has to be used and some resources spent to decipher that additional part of reality that is co-constructed by specific human power.

That means that it is a serious mistake if manager asks for simple KISS explanations of situation, but is not only desirable but also necessary to ask for KISS solutions. Explanations have to be as complex as possible to allow actions as simple and as manageable as possible.

I do not hide that this post gives explanation why page as explanatory page of certain traits of reality primary goal is to enable you with mental tools to understand complexity.

Andrej Drapal