In every science, there is a field that assesses theory and approaches, and reaches a conclusion about which are to be accepted. In the realms of medicine and physics, scientists—diligent seekers of truth—hypothesize, offer proof, experiment, and reach consensus. They proclaim with authority: “This medicine is ok to prescribe,” or “This theory is dominant.”

Industries agree on authorities to set and police standards. BIFMA does this for the furniture industry, FASB for accounting, and W3C for the World Wide Web.

There is no such field for business management. We find only vague outlines where clear paths should be. Peer-reviewed journals play a central role in business academia. Yet there is a big gap between the world of business theory and its practitioners—a gap between science and practice.

For doctors, there is a science that tells them which treatments to prescribe and which ones to avoid. For business builders, there are so many different sources of advice on common practices, like how to set up a marketing funnel or choose the right customer. We find ourselves grasping for the latest book, a suggestion from a neighbor, or what the member of our entrepreneurs’ group tried.

The field of business, unlike its counterparts, lacks the rigidity of scientific discipline. Entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and innovators don’t have an American Medical Association, Food and Drug Administration, or American Bar Association. Instead, they are guided by multiple authorities that may not agree. Thinkers50 is one such authority. Harvard Business Review and other trade journals are another. Book publishers assess which ideas should be published and book lists influence what should be read.

The cost of this absence of a scientific beacon is significant:

  • Unnecessarily high failure rates
  • Stress
  • Job loss
  • Society missing out on the promise of innovations that perish not from flawed ideas but from flawed execution

As an aspiring business authority, I find myself seeking the approval of multiple authorities. For example, MIT Sloan Management Review has influence over one community, EO over entrepreneurial communities, etc. Podcasters and other influencers also play their role.

This unstructured expanse allows inferior concepts, approaches, and tools to filter through. This landscape rewards the sticky over the scientific, the marketable over the meritorious, the merchants over the methodologies.

We, the practitioners of business, are too often fed the junk food of transient ideas, unaware of or unable to reach for the nourishing apple of sound theory.

I believe it is time to bring the rigor of science to the art of business building. That’s why I’ve decided to write my next book on identifying the tested, proven, and adopted business-building tools. Stay tuned!

Photo by Rodolfo Clix