When a company needs to make an unusual problem, its leadership asks a few company departments to provide a report associated with the problem from department’s point of view – technical, operational, financial, legal, etc. After reviewing these reports, the problem is narrowed down and another set of reports is requested and so on. This chain of iterations eventually leads to a decision.
These reports are Theories; they encapsulate knowledge and experience of the company. Each one is logically coherent, that it is possible to remember them and to catch a mistake in reasoning. Different reports are produced from different points of View and rarely could be logically combined in one. This is by design. Through iterations, these Theories are tuned to situation and to those, who make decisions. Eventually, decision-makers acquire enough understanding to make a Decision, given existing time constraints.
This process is similar to what an individual does, when he has to make a difficult Decision, only it is more structured and explicit. Individuals also look at the problem from different points of View, form Theories in bounds of each point of View, refine the set of Views and associated Theories and eventually make a Decision.
Logic is a phenomenally useful tool in decision-making, but about everything that could be done with logic is packed in Theories and a decision-maker has to deploy some other tools, like experience, vague discussions and intuition to arrive to a final decision.
The process of decision-making with Views, Theories, iterations and possible minor experimentations to learn more about the situation is used frequently and from ancient time people wanted to have ways to create Theories faster. Thus “templates” of Theories emerged.
Unlike Theories, for which one hardly could say how close they are to the situation at hand and to abilities of the decision-maker to use them, “Templates” of Theories have solid foundation – existing Theories and the potential variety of Theories built from these templates. “Templates” could be made modular, placed in hierarchies (where more abstract “Templates” used to build more concrete “Templates”), etc.
One who knows these “Templates” has better chance to build a useful Theory, when needed, and build it quicker.
We learn these “Templates” as technical courses, sciences, etc. Mathematics deals with the most abstract “Templates”.
Note though one paradoxical thing about Theories. It is often possible to show that a given Theory is not adequate – using it most likely would lead to a bad decision and it is possible to point the circumstances, when such even could happen. The opposite – that the Theory is adequate, is not possible to prove, never. However it is possible to show that it is in agreement with Theories, which were successfully used in similar circumstances and it is in agreement with existing experiences.
Theories are tools of exploration, used in the process of decision-making. They are built, corrected, discarded and new Theories are built instead.
It is counterproductive and often dangerous to treat Theories as something describing “essence” of things, some “reality” and compare Theories on the basis which one describes it better.
It is counterproductive to attempt and build some Theories, which encapsulate a few of Theories used in the process of decision-making. A Theory is bound together with logic and this limits its reach. Hence a set of Theories is used and each Theory presents a different logically coherent View on the problem. To achieve a unified mental picture, some additional work has to be done, which often is not based on logic.
Each Theory is developed for a task at hand; it discards some observations as irrelevant and emphasizes other. Blind use of existing Theory, which was developed for finding a solution in one situation, in the process of finding a solution in another situation is highly dangerous – important observations could be ignored, because adherence to a Theory makes people at least partially blind.
Some Theories require substantial maturity to be formulated and applied properly. A hint how to build such theories is passed in the form of Allegories.
They are generously written that everyone who passes them alone gets something from it.
Alexander Liss 7/9/2019