The other day Atamert Ölçgen quoted a passage from Dune in response to something I’d posted on Google+. I haven’t read the Dune books, but the passage puts generalists in a favorable light, and since I’m something of a generalist, I’m inclined to like such quotes. Here’s the part I particularly liked. It says that the mentat must be able to say
There’s no real mystery about this at the moment. This is what we want now. It may prove wrong later, but we’ll correct that when we come to it.
Too often we act as if every decision is weighty and permanent. Of course some decisions are weighty and permanent, but most are not. Wisdom is knowing which decisions are and which are not. Sometimes it pays to not try to look too far ahead, conceding that if you’re wrong “we’ll correct that when we come to it.”
6 thoughts on “Management principle from Dune”
You really should give Dune a chance. One of my favorite series.
Dune, if you just stick with the originals, is a masterpiece. It can’t even be described. It is beyond brilliant.
Knowing which decisions are permanent — i.e., which ones paint you into a corner; which ones cannot be revisited later, because they foreclosed the future options — is not wisdom; it is a manifestation of the halting problem. When someone guesses lucky, it looks like wisdom. When someone guesses lucky conspicuously often, it looks even more like wisdom. But it is still the halting problem and it is still guesswork.
The first in the series is the best – it’s one of my all time favorites. The rest get pretty convoluted but are still entertaining.
I love me some Robert Heinlein, though.
I love this quote. “Reblogging” it right now. I agree that the first few Dune books are excellent.
Another bit of management advice from the Dune series, which I take to mean, “Don’t waste my time in meetings”: