Be More Like Mathematicians!

Over at Boing Boing (here), Maggie Koerth-Baker points us in the direction of an interesting question posted on Quora (here), where someone asks "What is it like to have an understanding of very advanced mathematics?" In response, someone posted this enlightening response;

You are comfortable with feeling like you have no deep understanding of the problem you are studying. Indeed, when you do have a deep understanding, you have solved the problem and it is time to do something else. This makes the total time you spend in life reveling in your mastery of something quite brief. One of the main skills of research scientists of any type is knowing how to work comfortably and productively in a state of confusion.

For many of us, our natural inclination is to pull in the opposite direction and actively seek certainty and operate within a world of known parameters and possibilities. Arguably, forcing oneself to become more comfortable and willing to embrace uncertainty and the question the limits of ones understanding reprensents a major step in being able to look beyond the obvious. By acknowledging the complexity and deep interrelatedness of many issues facing organisations, new insight and dare I say it, greater innovation may be achievable. However, I suspect that for many managers who have spent a career trumpeting their experience and achievements, this is a step too far.

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