Peter Gomez began his talk by decrying the fact that we seem to want more and more data. This is not what we need, in actual fact, we need to see patterns within business and society instead.
We cannot rely on prediction, but we need to think about optimal simplification. Pattern recognition and optimal simplification are the keys to good management. Einstein said that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Therefore, we must get as close as possible to the threshold of simple making sense and not making sense.
Managers have less and less time and are forced to act without actually knowing where they are going. This leads to oversimplification, command, and control.
Quoting Ashbys Law, Mr. Gomez said there is a need to understand variety in decision making in order to cope with complexity. He gives the example of traffic being more efficient with roundabouts rather than traffic lights because it requires drivers to think before they act within a complex system. Management should learn from this in decision making and should learn to decide just how complex the problem is before making a decision in order to adapt the methods accordingly. We also need to increase the accountability in our decision making as well as redraw the boundaries in our systems in order to isolate the generic patterns and finally identify pockets of order in the system.
As a conclusion, Professor Gomez stated that good managers can do without predictions about the future but only if they follow Einstein’s simplification guideline and live up to Ashby’s Law. Also, early movers shape the future whereas followers can only be moderately successful in following.
Access all GlobalEd conference articles here.
Professor Emeritus of Management, University of St. Gallen
1947 August 23, born in St. Gallen, Switzerland1966 – 1975 Undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies, University of St. Gallen
1975 – 1976 Research fellow and part-time lecturer, University of St. Gallen
1977 – 1978 Visiting professor, State University of New York, Binghamton, USA
1979 – 1983 Senior Vice-President corporate planning and organization of Ringier Group, Zurich
1983 – 1989 Senior Vice-President corporate development and M&A of Distral Group, Zurich
1989 – 1990 Founding partner of Valcor AG, Zurich, consultants for strategic management and M&A
1990 – pres. Professor at the University of St. Gallen, Director of the Institute of Management
1995 – 1998 Dean, Faculty of Business Administration, and Senior Vice-President, University of St. Gallen
1999 – 2005 President, University of St. Gallen
2005 – 2010 Dean, Executive School of Management, Technology and Law, University of St. Gallen
2006 – 2007 Chairman of the Board of Directors, SWX Group Zurich and Eurex Zurich/Frankfurt
2008 – pres. Chairman of the Board of Directors, SIX Group Zurich and Eurex Zurich/Frankfurt