These two thoughts collided in my brain this morning when I heard someone say, "Business decisions are merely emotions packaged in logic." Let me explain.
Archeology is the process of examining the artifacts that people leave behind to find clues about their lives. The most resilient artifacts survive for millennia, and are the source of endless speculation. They can grow to symbolize more than their creators ever intended or could imagine.
For example, excavated spearheads tell us something about prehistoric animals, hunters' techniques, and peoples' eating habits. Attached to wooden sticks, they were used as simple hunting tools or weapons. Spearheads to us are symbols of leadership, innovation, and success. (Who is spearheading the most important initiatives at your company?)
The tons of empty oxygen bottles that have been left near the top of Mount Everest since the 1950's tell us a lot about mountain climbing and the quest to conquer. To the climber, an oxygen bottle is a critical part of his supply kit. To others, those discarded metal cannisters symbolize the battle between technology and the natural world, and its primary by-product, pollution.
When someone says something like, "Business decisions are merely emotions packaged in logic."--and that simple statement is picked up and repeated by others--I believe we should remember that words can be artifacts too, and come to symbolize more than they should.
Clearly, decisions are an unscientific blend of emotion, logic, and luck. But this statement makes the whole messy business of decision making sound too appetizing and sublime to be healthy... almost like bacon wrapped scallops. It is one artifact that decision makers can live without.