As Rich Karlgaard explains in The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, the scientific method consists of six steps:
1. Observe and describe phenomena.
2. Sort them out and organize within categories.
3. Measure correlations and probabilities.
4. By studying a single event, organism, or company at great depth, learn what happens and why.
5. Understanding causality of the given phenomenon, study the different situations in which what is done must be done differently
6. Finally, identify anomalies: phenomena that the given theory cannot explain. Resolving these anomalies is the method by which theories can be improved.
“Over the last four hundred years the laws of the universe have not changed. But thanks to the scientific method, our understanding of the physical world has changed remarkably.”
In business, there seems to be some confusion about the relative value of tangible assets (e.g. physical resources) and intangible assets (e.g. employee morale). Organizations must have both execution (hard edge) and humanity (soft edge) but without a strategic base, Karlgaard suggests, “it’s all for naught.” Execution and empathy are not mutually-exclusive. Both are verifiable, indeed measurable, with correct application of appropriate analytics. The absence of either is obvious.
Rich Karlgaard provides an abundance of information, insights, and counsel in The Soft Edge, published by Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Brand (April 2014). He is the publisher of Forbes magazine and author of its “Innovation Rules” column. He contends that the fundamentals of competitive advantage are changing fast. For high performance and endurance, you now need strategy & execution…and the under-recognized but increasingly vital “soft edge.” You can also check out his tweets and his website.