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Jim Collins: Theory from Data


March 25, 2006

  • Theory is of the Mind. Data are physical facts. To deduce a theory from data is theoretically invalid. The right sequence is data can be called upon to confirm a Theory.
  • The simple reason is the sum of the parts is NOT the whole, and can be anything but the whole.
  • Data is a collection of veterans. Theory is Napoleon.
  • Those who relied on data expected socialist revolution in Great Britain. The Revolution not only eluded Britain, but evaded all industrialised nations and then chose a very backward, rural Russia.
  • Reliance on data is like relying on the past to know the future. The future in 1960 never disclosed itself to those armed with all the sociological statistics. All the scientific inquiries of Europe could not let her know the birth of America across the Atlantic. Knowledge is wider than the methods of scientific inquiry can ever handle. It is not the information from data that made the world recently reverse its attitude to the swelling population.
  • Jim Collins is vastly successful not because of his collection of data but because of the insight he has into the arrangement of data.
  • American shipbuilding industry demonstrated that efficiency can rise four hundred times. Jim has again demonstrated it in management. It is efficiency. What JP Morgan did in 1907 was not due to efficiency but arose out of the power that accrued to him because of insight, a penetrating vision into the social structure through the movements of money.
  • Lakshmi Mittal has demonstrated the heights of success to which perfect accounting can take a Man. It is again the efficiency of a single component.
  • The world was earnestly observing Darwin and others studying and bought out Origin of Species on the day of publication. His theory has survived a hundred years. Still it cannot explain Man. As China was disturbed 2000 year ago and He says she will be equally disturbed again in 2000 years, data cannot deliver the goods. Even the Spirit of India that was partial failed there.
  • No amount of observation and collection of data could have led anyone to conceive that it is the earth that goes around the sun. If a method fails even once, it is an invalid method.
  • In any Sherlock Holmes story, the police, the victim, the onlookers and readers invariably arrive at a rational conclusion based on available data. Holmes reaches another conclusion.
  • It is worthwhile enumerating the discoveries of fundamental scientific principles from the accumulated data.
  • No one other than the parents are posted with all the data possible about a child's behaviour. In periods of transition, the parents going wrong are in the majority. It is more true about husband and wife. In a famous movie towards the end of it, the hero tells his wife that he may not understand her even if he lived with her for 90 years. There can be no better field where the data, conscious as well a subconscious, are known to each other in a greater measure. It is a common comment of spouses that, "I can never know what he will do next." Intuition never fails, nor insight.
  • No poet, artist, great musician, or creative political leader has ever reached his goal working from data.
  • Data is of the known; our search is for the unknown. To look for guidance about the unknown in the known is a reductio ad absurdum.
  • Construction of a theory from the data alone can often lead to an absurd result as the converse proves to be often.
  • The conclusions of Jim Collins about humility and determination are themselves a stretch from the data if we consider the same cases from the exponents of Money or Market. Technology can be said to be the real cause of the success of some of these companies. Moving away from the concrete inputs of Technology, Market, Money to invisible ingredients such as humility and determination itself shows that one needs to move away from the visible Data to the invisible ideals, values, etc.
  • An analysis of Jim's right conclusion will reveal at many points the inversion of cause and effect.

story | by Dr. Radut