Icon Without Substance

A Story: More than a decade ago

I will never forget how my teacher taught me the basics of Microsoft Windows. Right after graduating from college, 15 years ago, I enrolled in a computer literacy program—a two-week course covering the Windows basic applications: word, excel, powerpoint, and internet explorer.

However, before I was exposed to the application softwares, I was first taught how to navigate through the Windows operating system—exploring the complex forest-like stacks of cascaded folders, from system folder to utilities to MyDocuments. I learned how to open, create and delete a folder, and to transfer them from one location to another. “When you create a folder be sure not to forget the name, and always remember where you saved it, otherwise, you will consume time locating it the next time you’ll need it,” my teacher warned me. He then followed with, “You will use the same technique when creating a file, so always remember that.

Then he taught me how to create a shortcut icon. Sometimes, when I want immediate access to a folder I saved in MyDocuments, I may create a shortcut icon in the desktop. Whenever I double-click the shortcut, Windows automatically open the original folder saved hidden in MyDocuments.

However,” this time, a stern warning, “when you delete the original folder (in MyDocuments), the shortcut icon (in the desktop) is not automatically deleted with it. So when you try to open it, Windows will pop up a message — with a flashlight waving left and right as if searching for something—saying that the original folder cannot be located.” When the original file is gone, its shortcut icon becomes useless.

Fifteen years have passed and his message remained clear and fresh in my head: an icon without substance is meaningless.

On Motivation

What Others Have To Say . . .

Part of every writing task is my usual informal conversations with a random set of people, asking them about the subject matter I am investigating. One morning I asked Kris Ann, one of our students, “How do you motivate a person?” I was expecting answers similar to what some of my favorite experts have to say about the topic. Instead, she replied with an innocent question — shaking the very foundation of my inquiry, “How do I motivate a person to do what?” Never expecting another question as a response to my question, I immediately jumped back to the basics and reviewed the word motivation.

It occurred to me that yes — she was right — motivation is a transitive verb. It needs an object. Suddenly I realized that my question is too assuming and somewhat incomplete. Can I simply ask what motivates a person without ever asking what task she needs motivation to?

Reviewing the books I have read, I realized that many authors including some of my favorite authors treat “motivation” as if it is an intransitive verb — implying that a person is either motivated or not. But as our student innocently pointed out through her naive yet profound question, a person can be highly motivated to do one task and totally passionless, uninspired or unmotivated to do another.

Motivation is a huge topic. John C. Maxwell enumerated some specific suggestions on how to motivate a person. These are universal triggers, meaning, most people in most circumstances, will most likely be motivated by these triggers, hence, they are called universal triggers. In his books, Developing The Leader Within You, he says that a person is motivated if:

  • he’s engaged in a significant task
  • he knows his contribution
  • he participates in goal setting
  • he has a positive dissatisfaction (dissatisfied in the status quo)
  • he has clear expectations
  • he is recognized

In another book, Becoming A Person of Influence, John Maxwell and Jim Dornan point out that we can motivate a person if we nurture him (emotionally and mentally), if we have faith in him, if we listen to him, and if we understand him.

Kenneth Blanchard claims in his books Leading at a Higher Level and The One Minute Manager series, that the people who produce are the “people who feel great about themselves.” Guided by this assumption, they created the “situational Leadership” where the leaders’ task is to make their people feel great about themselves by coaching them to grow gradually, acquire expertise in their field, and finally become highly independent and matured enough to become self-motivated themselves.

In Please Understand Me II, Dr. David Keirsey, while discussing in great details the differences of temperaments, elaborates that interest, practice, and skill interplay to make a person excel in one particular area. As we practice daily the things that naturally interests us, we gradually gain skills and expertise on that area. Then, as we experience successes because of our gained expertise we become more interested (and motivated) . . . so we practice more. The cycle continues until we become best in what we do. We become highly motivated.

Parallel to David Keirsey’s “interest,” Marcus Buckingham, in his very provocative book First, Break All The Rules, tells that it is our unique strengths that drive our motivation. He defines strength as the combination of our unique talents, skills, and knowledge. Ushered by clear distinctions among these three (skills and knowledge are transferable and trainable, while talent is innate and is definitely nontransferable), he advocates that organizations need to align their people’s strengths with the job they are performing.

Dr. Daniel Goleman is the only source I have encountered who dissected “motivation” like a frog — showing its anatomy through scientifically trained eyes. In his highly recommendable books Emotional Intelligence and Working with Emotional Intelligence, he says that motivation is directly linked with our emotion. He further explains that people become motivated when he enters into what he calls “flow.” A flow is a state where a person is holistically engaged in a particular task — meaning, his whole being is integrated in performing something. A person in the state of “flow” forgets about the time and space. He is literally consumed by the process of what he’s doing rather than by the result that awaits his performance.

At first, all of these authors seem to treat the topic of motivation as if it’s an intransitive verb, that is, “A person is either motivated or not.” Perhaps these authors focus their ‘motivation’ to a single object: success. But as I stare deeper into the concept, I see the pattern more clearly.

When I first read their books, I thought these authors express different and unrelated views; Maxwell focuses on character and competence; Blanchard on situational leadership; Goleman on the power of emotions; Keirsey on temperaments and intelligences; Buckingham on talents.

However, listening intently to what they are saying, I recognize that they are simply speaking of the same universal principles carefully and vividly demonstrated from different angles: motivating people to grow into their maximum potential. This is a universal perspective: everyone needs to grow.

After all, Kris Ann was right in her line of thinking: people have different potentials. There is diversity. We cannot motivate a person in everything or in every task. There are some areas that we are naturally inclined to . . . some areas that naturally triggers our appetite . . . some areas that normally drives us.

Paradoxically, I believe, my quoted authors are also right — there are some universal triggers that motivate us all.

In other words, every person is motivated both differently and universally. Now, if I want to motivate a person, I think, I need to find out what his unique triggers are, and capitalize on them when motivating him. Meanwhile, I can also look for those universal source of motivation that are common to everyone, and tap on them as well.

Technology and Society

How does technology affect other areas of our life?


Is the visible world around us all there is?” My favorite author Philip Yancey circles around this question in his book Rumors of Another World. I like that thought-provoking book. It explores the possibility of another world that coexists in our physical world. It challenges me to continually pay attention to the bigger picture we call life. It makes me always aware of many other unseen and unexplored realms that are in constant contact with every aspect of our life that are equally important.

Technology for easier life

It is a common acknowledgement that tools are purposely designed to make people’s tasks easier. Since technology is considered as a tool, it follows that technology is developed to make our lives easier. Well, I don’t argue against that. We are surrounded by tools everywhere…and that significantly makes our many tasks easier. I no longer need to roam around the city streets to look for tools. Inside my small room I have electric fan, exhaust fan, lockers, bookshelf, single and double beds, chair, floor and ceiling, walls, pens and papers, and everything else that I can touch, measure, and count—they are all designed to make my life in this planet easier. Even this very computer that I am using in writing this article makes my tasks more efficient and less tiring. In general terms, all of those things that I use inside my room are all tools—they are products of technology—designed to make lives easier and more efficient. I totally agree.

However, I am in constant quest as to why we want easier life instead of stronger one, instead of more significant, more meaningful one. Why? That part I honestly don’t understand. Is our physical world around us—the world that has already been conquered by artists and scientists—all there is? Is that all we have? If not, why focus too much in its mastery? Sadly enough, our society, with all its old and modern technology obviously suggests that that’s all there is—nothing more.

Society and its intricately woven parts

Stephen Covey’s books 7 Habits, The 8Th Habit, and Principle-Centered Leadership tremendously altered the way I see myself, other people and the society as a whole. As frequently as I reflect about my life, I am constantly reminded of my four dimensions as a person: my body, heart, mind, and spirit. No matter how much I concentrate on one dimension, if I stubbornly neglect the others, I won’t be a whole person, I won’t be complete.

The four dimensions are not exclusive for people. Organizations are like people in a way that every organization has its own unique personality, that is, organizations have body, heart, mind, and spirit as well. Societies are not exempted either. They are just bigger and more complicated. Societies, like people and organizations also have physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. It’s just that they are more complex, maybe due to its size compared to a single person. It doesn’t matter whether one is a person or an organization or a society there is always a lingering pattern: they all have body, heart, mind and spirit.

What is the connection? When we say that technology makes our life easier, do we mean life as described through the four dimensions? Or are we simply succumbed only to the dimension that is seen, measured, and those that we can control—the physical dimension?

Technology is a tool. It is neutral. Meaning, we can use technology to make life easier; but we can also use it to make life miserable. It’s up to us. Tools are designed to be used in certain ways. There are always Do’s and Don’ts. Users should always be informed or sometimes trained on how to use a tool. Otherwise he may defeat the very purpose of the tool he’s using. Worse yet, he may hurt himself in the process. And even worse is if the consequence is delayed for years before he realizes that the way he’s been using the tool that he’s been using is all wrong . . . and then it’s too late to rectify.

What’s the point? The point is . . . technology is neither good nor bad. If it helps our physical life easier, that’s good. But if technology negatively affects the other dimensions—especially the emotional and spiritual dimensions—of our life, even though it tremendously helps our physical and mental life, then it’s counterproductive. It’s not just useless, it becomes destructive. No matter how much help technology offers us, if it pulls us away from being cooperative, ethical, conscientious, industrious, and GOD-fearing, no matter how much easier life may become, if it pulls us away from being integrated, from being whole, then it is not being helpful at all. We are being deceived by our own assumptions.

Look at what Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution did to the relationship between science and religion. How about Sigmund Freud’s theory about human psychology? What has science brought us in terms of peace, love, integrity, authenticity, respect, and ethics? Technology is okay—as long as it doesn’t destroy the other dimensions of our lives. World Wide Web is good as an information tool. But how does it affect the younger ones? How about other technologies like guns, nuclear weapons, nano technology? Technology is supposed to be neutral. But now many are not. They destroy our paradigms, alter our beliefs, refocus our values, and the saddest part, they paralyze our conscience. Do I still need to prove this claim?

How about in education? Many schools are excellent when it comes to academics but totally poor when it comes to humility and character. They are absolutely illiterate when it comes to bringing knowledge to their emotions. Remember, education is also a tool. If it helps us improve our mental dimension and yet destroy our emotional and spiritual side, what good does it do?

In Principle-Centered Leadership, Stephen Covey mentions Gandhi’s teaching about seven things that destroy us:

  • wealth without work
  • pleasure without conscience
  • knowledge without character
  • commerce without morality
  • science without humanity
  • worship without sacrifice
  • politics without principles

Howard Gardner, in his year 2008 book The 5 Minds for the Future, discusses the limits of science and technology. He says that,

“ … science can never constitute a sufficient education. Science can never tell you what to do in class or at work. Why? What you do as a teacher or manager has to be determined by your value system—and neither science nor technology has a built-in value system.”

Although he advocates about the importance of having a disciplined mind, synthesizing and creating minds, he did not undermine other parts. In fact he includes respectful mind and the ethical mind. Doctor Gardner strikes balance.


A silent revolution is needed. A subtle but intense campaign is necessary. Leadership reproduction is a must. Why leadership? Because our societies have already been overmanaged. People have already conquered science. We are now full of knowledge and are continuously acquiring more. We have plenty of pleasure. Commerce is in place, and many have wealth (although most are in poverty). In the list of seven dangerous things mentioned above, we already have pleasure, knowledge, commerce, science, and politics. What we lack however are conscience, character, morality, humanity, sacrifice, and principles—all of which are products of good leadership.

I think we should not take for granted that the technology we are about to bring to the society may destroy other areas of our life. In that case, no matter how much help technology provides to our physical tasks, if it destroys our inward self, our other dimensions, then it becomes ‘counterproductive,’ ‘counterefficient’, and ‘countereffective.’

The physical world that has already been mastered by people through science and technology is not all there is. There is more. Our society has heart, mind, and conscience as well. We can continue to make some research for more advanced technology, but we must do so without sacrificing our conscience, our character . . . without neglecting humanity, ethics, and principles. In other words, we need to strike balance. And I am convinced that leaders are the ones we can count on in providing that needed balance.

Accidental Umpire

While doing my assignment for my masteral studies two nights ago, I overheard some indistinct voices from the outside. That was about nine in the evening.

My crammed room is located at the rear of our housing unit. It’s a quiet, secluded room that is at least far from the busy life outside — far enough for me to enjoy tranquility amidst the sometimes wild and often noisy environment.

But not this time: the voices I heard managed to penetrate the concrete walls, closed windows, and the plywood partitions that shield my room from the uninvited sounds that normally irritate me. The voices managed to penetrate my silence, disturbing my concentration and displacing the mellow music that played in the background as I typed. I was totally distracted. 

When I silently opened my door to sneak my head outside just enough to let my ear do the inquiring, I noticed that the voices were rapidly getting louder . . . and closer. Then I began to recognize them: a man and a woman. “Oh, the couples across our narrow street — that’s a simple husband-wife quarrel.” I told myself.

Being an introverted person who prefers to live a quiet and undisturbed life, I was so tempted to hide back inside my small room and continue minding my own business, rationalizing that they are both grown ups, have kids, and that I don’t have any business with whatever it was they were brawling about in their private life. But wait, why are they near my front door?

Still, I neglected my own question and turned my body towards my notebook to continue my work. Yet before I was even able to close my door, I heard loud bangs from our entrance. They already reached my door. And the loud shouts made my heartbeat faster and louder as if synchronizing with their rhythm. Those shouts invited me to interfere.

So I did. What I thought to be a simple lovers’ quarrel turned out to be a more complicated dispute. There was a third person. They are all my acquaintances. The couples are my neighbors; the other man, my housemate. That explains why they were near my doorsteps. A heated dispute was firing up and the woman was trying to cool it down.

The argument broke into an open fist fight while the woman was helplessly pulling her husband away from my house mate. As the three push each other, they bang with the entrance door of my unit.

I realized I had no choice. I needed to intervene.

In short, my quiet study time was instantly turned into a chaotic play of intervening a raging interaction between two furious friends.

The dispute invited more audiences and in less than a minute, our immediate surroundings became like a coliseum of gladiators with some “extras” in between the fearless warriors to stop the show. I was one of those extras. I was trying everything to stop the show.

Instead of the gladiators, we, the extras, were the winners. We managed to stop and cool down the blazing combatants.

After pulling my housemate away from the scene into our unit, I closed the door, and then asked him what happened. As he told me his story, I knew that there was something more. I knew that what he told me was just the most outer layer of a seemingly thick cascaded layers of a subtle cycle of personal attacks and counterattacks. I knew I wouldn’t be able to dig the deepest root and I did not want to even try it. Besides, I have detected that they were not the only persons involved in the conflict. There are more.

“Go back to your room, take a rest, and we’ll settle this tomorrow when all of you are no longer drunk,” I told my housemate. Yes, they were all drunk. Although not too much, nonetheless, they were.

He was very polite to submit to my request. So after he entered his room, I happily went back to my already distracted work and tried as strongly as I could to retrieve all the lost data in the memory of my head. One by one, the data I have been processing before their chaotic world invited me, began to emerge gradually.

I was smiling and shaking my head peacefully as I typed my next few sentences when all of a sudden I heard louder voices from more people. Wow! What happened? I thought . . .

Going back to the battle field not as a warrior but as an arbiter, I first cleared my mind. “This one is tougher. I need to be more collected, cool and alert.” I reminded myself as I saw my neighbor holding a bolo — a long single-edged knife — as he gave a warning to my equally fierce housemate.

The audience had doubled. The battle was elevated to the next level. One warrior was using a weapon. “What would I do now?” I asked myself, “Should I play the same winning role I played earlier — as an umpire?  What if I lose this time and become the victim of that deadly bolo?”

I didn’t remember the exact details of how we did it. Everything happened so fast. But with more “extras” to stop the war, we managed to settle it down. Everything that happened next was almost exactly the same with the previous chapter: I told my housemate to return to his room, and again, he did.

Before I went back to my catastrophic study time to hopelessly continue my assignment, I went outside and talked to our amazed audiences not to go home yet, lest they might miss the forthcoming third round. I already accepted the apparent fact: the battle isn’t over yet, the fighters were just having a break. Perhaps, they were just planning their next strategy.

Then I went back to my room, but I changed my mind. Having convinced myself that the war has just began, I decided to just secure my notebook and forget about my assignment. Lives outside my room were at stake. They were more important, I thought, than my grades.

Back to my desk, staring at my poor abandoned notebook, I was ready for the next loud shouts. Nothing. “Should I continue my study or just wait for the next match?” I didn’t know. So instead, I switched on my desktop and planned to play.

Maybe my PC was so slow, because before I even started the game, a soft knockings on my room took my attention. When I opened the door, the person outside was a little bit confused as he didn’t know what to say.

So I made him sit in my dining table across me and encouraged him to speak up. He shook his head slowly and then told me, “Arnold, I don’t know what to say and how to start it, it’s complicated.

“Now I have the fourth involved person. I was right about my initial assessment on the conflict.  What started to be just a simple dispute between two drunk men was actually a culmination of a long grudge tenderly harbored by all parties involved. One by one the names of other people in this complex situation emerged.

Suddenly I became the person I didn’t want to be. I became the accidental umpire, the judge, the mediator.

The person in front of me called all the other players and they demanded to settle everything in front of me. They wanted a witness, an arbiter, an outsider perhaps, they wanted me to sit down and listen to them as they settle their long harbored grudges to one another. They wanted reconciliation, and they wanted me to be there. “But why me?” I was screaming inside my heart! Most of these people are older than me. They are older than me by more than a decade. Some of them are already like a father or uncle to me. Why me? Why here in my unit?

Having no other choice, I listened to their pains, and predicaments. As they expressed all their negative feelings, some false assumptions that were responsible for their behaviors started to surface gradually. As they journeyed to their past, I couldn’t help but listen, trying to connect to their hidden world that has not been visible to me.

During the discussion, I noticed that every one of the five people who crowded my small living room started to cool down as if they have realized that their behaviors in the past were just products of their false assumptions and wrong interpretations to the actions of their fellow. As they concealed their feelings, they only gave them away . . . uncontrolled.

After less than an hour of painful recollection of the past they started to smile and began saying sorry to one another. My neighbor and my housemate embraced as they both said, “Sorry!”  I was relieved. Every one was happy. Everything back to normal. At last, it’s over! We all won the battle!

Pondering about some principles I have learned from similar encounters, I began to relax and stopped listening attentively to them. “They are okay now!” maybe that’s the assumption unconsciously running inside my head as I let them go on with their stories and clarifications with each other.

My mind was pondering over some principles actively at work beneath our every word, and behind our every action. I was reflecting on the situation, its causes and implications when I noticed that the peace we were just starting to enjoy was gradually fading. The gradual fading slowly became rapid.

Before we even knew it, diplomacy was gone. When my housemate threw his cellphone toward the entrance door and angrily walked out the door, I realized the peace was temporary. Our jaws dropped as we saw his cellphone dropped to the floor in four pieces. Everybody was shocked. In less than ten-seconds, the four people inside my unit, locked their eyes on me as if waiting for my response.

I wanted to vanish right from my seat. I wanted to ask them why are they staring at me. “Why always me?” When will this agony stop?

The person in front of me broke the silence by asking me, “You see what he just did?” I nodded very gently showing him a sad face. And then, he stood and started to walk through the door with the intent to follow my housemate outside the building into the dark.

Another round had begun: the third round.Before he walked outside to follow my housemate, I managed to remind him to be cool and stick with the objective — to settle things out. He did the opposite.Another fight broke in. Louder, more intense, and with more adrenaline. It took us almost another hour to finally settle their raging emotions down.  The same chain of events were repeated. We managed temporarily to cool the situation down only to be reincarnated into a more dangerous, ravenous monster: the fourth round followed next. Everything was repeated in the same exact sequence.

Finally, few minutes before midnight we were all embracing each other, repeating the words, “Sorry!” and “Thank you!”

After all was gone, I was left alone in my small secluded room unable to sleep, thinking about what happened. The three-hour struggle for peace was finally won over.

What have I learned?

As for me, I still don’t know why I was there, and why I was put in the middle of them, because to be brutally honest, I didn’t do anything that might have led to their reconciliation. I was just an outsider — not an umpire — who happened to be there, perhaps in order for me to learn something about hate and pride . . . about forgiveness.

What I have just witnessed reminded me that harboring pains and grudges only intensifies the chaos in our already hostile world.

I have learned that in a dispute like this, or in any war — even those in cosmic scale — our true enemy is not our perceived enemy, but war itself.

Hate and pride are deadly twins. Forgiveness is not simply about saying sorry and then forgetting it when we recall another offense done in the past; it’s about a 180 degrees change of heart. Forgiveness is about renouncing pride and letting go of our hate — submitting them to God, and focusing ourselves towards the opposite,  towards forgetting what the other person did and forgiving him not just in words and in deeds, but most importantly, inside our hearts where nobody will attest except God.

That makes forgiveness so difficult, because it’s not about what other people see in our actions, nor about what they hear in our words, but rather what God sees inside our hearts.

Lord, help me to forgive!

I Lost A Friend

One morning, I received a news: my friend and classmate was already dead. I was shocked — literally unable to think of anything in the moment.

She was my closest friend in UP Open University. I didn’t know her much. I didn’t know her personal life either. All I knew was that she was always there for me…as a classmate and friend. She always reminded me about our assignments, the topics, the deadlines, and other activities…and sometimes, the name of our professor. She never ceased to update me in every part of our every subject. She was always offering to give me a hand whenever I expressed my difficulties in my studies. We supported each other in our fora. She was quick to appreciate my every posted comment and my long article-like answers. She was a happy friend.

She was always there…and never did she fail to be a nice friend to me. I still remember when she arranged everything for me in our educational visit to GMA Networks. She did the same thing when we visited the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), arranging for my schedule, setting the time and place of meeting, forwarding me some cell phone numbers of our contact persons, introducing me to other classmates in the trip, and discussing with me the itenerary of our visit.

She was quick to forgive as well. After our field trip to PDI, she lost her notes. She came to me for rescue. But due to my too busy life@work I somehow forgot her request. When I followed up, she was already through. She borrowed from someone else. When I said “I’m sorry!” she just threw me her usual answer, “noh ka ba, wala yun!”

Noralyn was her name. I met her in the day of orientation for new students in UP Open University last year. Since then we became good pals and classmates. Everything we talked about was our course topics, assignments, plans after the schooling, and some current challenges at work. With too much subject matters at hand, we forgot to talk about our personal lives. I didn’t know her birthday, favorite foods, likes and dislikes. I just knew that she has a family and they are happy, and I was happy for her and her family. I didn’t really know her much…all I knew is that she was my friend…a very good friend.

Just before she died she was bombarding me with messages to finish my assignments, arguing that I was already too late in submission…and that I should be concerned with my grades as well. Just before she died, she exchanged some thoughts with me about her difficulties in last assignment. Just before she died she showed me that she’s a real friend who doesn’t expect for anything in return.

I just lost a precious friend! Now she’s gone. God took her without warning. But I am so grateful to have met her. I’m so thankful to God that at least, He has given me chance to express my gratitude to her just few days before she rested—thanking her for everything, and promising her to return all the grace I have received from her—not realizing that that was my last “thanks ‘tol!” to her. Now that last part is no longer given to me. How can I return the favor I abundantly received from her…now that she’s gone?

I need to pay it forward to other people who need that grace. I have to share it to others…


Can We Manage Science?

When I answered the posted question in our Discussion Forum about my understanding of the concept of CREATIVITY, and whether creativity can be managed or not, I accidentally provoked a somewhat unexpected almost violent reaction from a devoted classmate—devoted only to her paradigm—and blinded to others’ perspectives. At first, we just went circling around unclear premises. Fortunately, the discussion went very interesting and, I believe, very healthy as well, and even attracted other classmates who claimed to have learned and were enlightened somehow. Thanks to the challenger, the dialogue stretched us both!

In that controversial discussion about whether creativity can be managed or not, I delivered a quite unpopular approach by stating that, “CREATIVITY CANNOT BE MANAGED,” while at the same time explaining how it can be managed. Although the entire argument revolved around the idea that indeed creativity CAN BE MANAGED, I intended to state the opposite . . . to give emphasis on H O W creativity can be managed, that is, management is not done directly to creativity. Rather, if we want to manage creativity, we need to concentrate on its ENVIRONMENT and not to CREATIVITY itself. In other words, it’s the environment that fosters creativity that we can effectively manage. By ensuring that the factors that make creativity possible is what CREATIVITY MANAGEMENT is all about.

In this similar topic—CAN SCIENTISTS MANAGE SCIENCE?—I would like to take a similar approach, but with a little twist. I would argue here that yes, SCIENCE CAN BE MANAGED. And then at the end, I will challenge the very notion I have just established.

Science . . . and Arts

In my previous understanding, SCIENCE and ARTS are two different things. Sometimes I see them as a dichotomy—many things can EITHER be only art or only science. They are opposite. Now I understand there are also more abstract cases where both arts and science coexist. One example is leadership. For me, LEADERSHIP is both an art and a science. Another one is LOGIC—the art and science of correct thinking.

While leadership and logic are both art and science; management in general is mostly science. Also, while creativity is more than an art than a science, its management is more of a science than of an art. Therefore in my post about creativity, I argued that creativity and management are opposite. Here, however, I argue that science can be managed in a sense that both MANAGEMENT and SCIENCE are in the same end of the dichotomy. They are both sciences.

In simple and unelaborated way, science, according to my Encarta Dictionary is a SYSTEMATIC BODY OF KNOWLEDGE. In simpler terms, SCIENCE IS KNOWLEDGE. Now, substituting the synonymous terms in our topic, I would say that yes—SYSTEMATIC KNOWLEDGE CAN BE MANAGED.

Extending further, I consider that knowledge is a tool that we use every day. In that sense—SCIENCE AS A KNOWLEDGE, AND KNOWLEDGE BEING A TOOL—yes it can be managed in some degree.

Managing the evolution

Science has dramatically evolved in the past decades and is continuously evolving today. It didn’t evolve on its own, and it is not evolving on its own today. Science has many branches. We call each branch as a discipline. These diverse disciplines collaborate with one another to MANAGE the evolution of science. We manage science through CREATIVE research. BIOLOGY continues to evolve. This evolution affects the evolution of medicine. Simultaneously, PSYCHOLOGY is also continuously evolving thus affecting also the evolution of both BIOLOGY and medicine and probably other disciplines. ARCHITECTURE’S evolution is affected by the evolution of ENGINEERING which is in turn affected by the evolution of our knowledge of ELECTRICITY, CHEMISTRY and other disciplines as well. Our knowledge in chemistry, as it evolves, also affects the biologists’ knowledge in biology.

Science is one whole big body of knowledge of many branches that are somehow interconnected. Management of one branch affects the other branches. In other words, continuous research in one branch affects other related branches.

Science as a knowledge . . . as a Tool

As knowledge—a systematic body of big knowledge—I believe we can manage science. We don’t need to be scientists to manage our own knowledge. Some are disciplined in the field of medicine, some in architecture, some, in the science of Marine Engineering.

Marine engineers can of course manage their own knowledge in the science of marine engineering. Those engineers on board international vessels continue to be part of the evolution of this branch of science. New discoveries in PHYSICS affect the science of engineering. On board, the engineers continue to catch up to new technologies—modern machines they never thought possible before. Now however, facing the facts, marine engineers need to adjust. They need to manage their own knowledge about this specific knowledge (science in marine engineering), or else, they will be left behind.

Scientists in the maritime field continue to manage the science of marine engineering. And a lot of factors that they consider in their researches are those factors that come from the reports of the actual marine engineers on board, these engineers who keep on adjusting their knowledge just to catch up. As they manage the engine and the entire engine department onboard a vessel, they make lots of analyses and syntheses. These activities are always logged on in official record books. (Now they already have modern computer software that will do some parts of the analyses and syntheses.) Copies of these records are sent to the owners of these vessels and or other authority for continuous study. This will then be the basis for the new research. After the research, implementation follows. Installing of new and modern machines on board the vessels forces marine engineers to take special training and advance their knowledge of the marine engineering science as well. It’s a cycle between the engineers and scientists.

All of these happen because both the scientists and the ones in the field are successfully managing not only the science of marine engineering but science as a whole. As I have said, the branches are interrelated. Our discipline is benefiting from the science of ELECTRICITY and CHEMISTRY.

But . . . let’s think again

Although we can manage science in many aspects, there are areas that we cannot truly manage. Ironically, although science gives us easier life, it also threatens that easy life to end sooner, quicker. In medicine, the invention of pain relievers tremendously affects the psychology of many individuals. We no longer appreciate the gift of pain. Because of these pain relievers, we now tend to condemn PAIN and avoid it as much as possible without ever realizing that pain helps us survive. It affects our attitude.

Modern household technologies make us lazy and make us prone to complain. Because of those technologies that promote speed, we forget the virtue of being slow. We want everything fast and instant. Beauty products that are product of chemistry and biology continue to change how we perceive BEAUTY. Even software like Photoshop distorts our perception of beauty. Natural is no longer natural.

Modern science also brings us problems, dilemmas, and chaos beyond imagination. The wars, modern crimes, new diseases, and unpredictable weather are mostly products of the “successful management of science.”

That’s the irony. We tend to isolate science from arts and other areas of life even from our spiritual life. We tend to look at the past and consider all advances in science as success without realizing its negative effects in other areas of our life. Because of this, we are now in great danger. Global warming is just one, but this is global. It is affecting the entire planet. This global warming, a clear and present danger is just the product of so called DECADES OF SUCCESSFUL MANAGEMENT OF SCIENCE. My personal conviction tells me that if we are truly in control, we will be able to stop instead of aggravate these problems. The whole world is an INDIVISIBLE  WHOLE. We cannot manage just one area (like science) while neglecting other areas like our values, ethics, spiritual growth, relationships, and many other areas in our precious lives. We need to integrate all these into one. We need balance.

If we truly believe that we can totally manage science, we better think again.