From the Archives...

The Problem of Language, Art, Tradition and Discipline in Business

[Matt Taylor Journal page 679, January 5, 1985, 5:00AM]
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

Last night Gail and I were practicing a piece on our recorders. It was a canzonet from the Second Set of Madrigals by John Wilbye. He wrote it in 1609. As we learned the piece its structure slowly revealed itself to us. This composer was able to reach forward 376 years and teach and inspire us. We were able to delight with him in a simple and beautiful musical idea.

376 years is a long time, yet this communication took place. There are many factors that allowed this to happen, not the least of which is Western civilization. But the most significant and specific factor is the language of musical notation. Because of a simple system, the rules of which can be explained in a few pages, and because of the western intellectual tradition, which has developed these rules and preserved the past; because of this, we were able to lose ourselves for an hour in a part of his world. Without this precise language and a tradition of how to use it, this would have been impossible.

I think nothing better shows the relationship between system and rigor and the opportunity for creativity and feeling. Each real discipline has--by definition--a language that facilitates exact communication between its practitioners. In some cases such as law, this involves attaching very specific meaning to words that have other meanings in common use. In some cases such as mathematics and music a unique language notation system is used. In all cases there is controversy and debate about the language system itself and its rules. In all cases there are anomalies inherent in the structure of the system itself. It is the intellectual task of the guardians of these traditions to struggle with these anomalies and evolve (by evolution or revolution) the system. This process often raises profound philosophical issues that have relevance far beyond the specific art that revealed them.

Unfortunately, few people ever get educated in an exact art or science. And many who do think that their art is the only one with this and they fail to see the wider connections and opportunities. Also, in today's world of pragmatic "education" factories (based on the industrial era model), many get taught the surface mechanics of a discipline without learning the richer history, meaning and implications of the art. This produces the sterile killer-technocrat. In business, despite its pretensions, and despite the sub-disciplines it employs, there is lacking a precise language, art, tradition and discipline. In short, business and management is not a craft. It does not have or constitute a practice. This delivers a double blow. One, the general sloppiness and lack of professional behavior (as opposed to mannerism, of which there is plenty) among business(wo)men, and second, this accounts for the un-ease (or disease) that exists between business executives and their various technical support staffs. This is not a conflict of the "what" (as executives often think) but a conflict in the way of thinking.

"The mission of Taylor Management Cente environments is to provide individuals and organizations with new ways of working...." This means: a new language (see p 595, 10JAN84), new tools (CyberConn™), a new (& very old) tradition, a new practice. In short, all that is required to make a business an art.

Our biggest obstacle in Acacia now is the lack of a specific management discipline based on a 3rd wave premise and the skills that support that discipline (see p 612). This defines our 1985 focus (see p677 01JAN85).

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