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Dealing with Dilemmas: Where Business Analytics Fall Short by Frank Buytendijk

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Chapter 11. Closing Thoughts

You can't have your cake and eat it, too.

I have never understood this expression. Why can't I have my cake and it eat, too? Isn't that the whole point of cake, to be able to eat it? In this book I have described multiple ways of having your cake and eating it, too. I have shown that dilemmas are nothing to be afraid of. They are there, whether you deal with them or not. Given that reality, it is better to confront them.

How do we do this? Unfortunately, management theory can be truly confusing. Management is not like physics, where a single theory describes reality until it is proven wrong and substituted with a better theory. Management is part of the social sciences, where multiple conflicting and even contradicting theories can perfectly well coexist. For every study that says that innovation should be kept separate from the day-to-day business, there is another one that proposes combining the two. Leading academics claim that pure strategies are the best, yet other research suggests hybrid strategies perform much better. The reason is that we cannot control the circumstances, like we do in physics. There is no such thing as a true management laboratory in the real world.

You could actually call this the theory dilemma. If you believe a theory, and you know there are competing theories, you could pick the wrong one and fail. If you do not subscribe to a certain way of thinking and do a little of everything, you may not be able to focus and could fail ...

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