As Aristotle pointed out, one should not seek more precision in a subject than it allows. In many contexts, gonzo math turns out to be more accurate than the purer forms of analysis. “Pure” analysis in most business situations tends to be conservative rather than creative. It implicitly favors optimizing the existing business rather than building a new one. It is biased toward shrinking the business, for the simple reason that figuring out how to cut costs is easier than thinking up new ways to generate revenue. It produces an irrational kind of rationality—the kind that underestimates the impact of everything that can’t be measured easily, like the cost of job cuts on a company’s public image and internal morale. In pretending to analyze the future with the same fanatical precision with which it parses the past, it makes the classic mistake of assuming that the future will be a dotted-line projection of the most desirable recent trends.
The Management Myth: Debunking Modern Business Philosophy