The dilemmas of ignorance

Title: The dilemmas of ignorance
Author: Philip Boxer
Publication Year: 1999
Where Published: In ‘What is a Group? A fresh look at theory in practice’, edited by Chris Oakley, Rebus Press, London.

We hear a lot about new ways of doing business. We hear about new forms of ‘virtual’ organisation, and about revolutions in the way we – as customers and clients – will be enabled to live our lives. We hear that this is to come about through the strategies pursued by businesses, which will produce ‘revolutions’ in the way industries are organised. But in what sense can ‘strategy’ be ‘revolution’? This cannot be ‘strategy’ as in ‘longrange planning’. Instead, it is ‘strategy’ as the management of ignorance. Hamel – for instance – encourages businesses to change what they ordinarily ignore, in order to create new possibilities for growth and development. A process such as this cannot be wholly rational, otherwise it would indeed boil down to yet another form of ‘long-range planning’. So how are we to make sense of this idea of ‘managing ignorance’? One way of approaching this question is to consider the relationship of the conscious ego to the Freudian unconscious. From this perspective, ‘revolution’ becomes an effect of ‘listening’ to unconscious processes.

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