Lean thinking defines value as providing benefit to the customer. Anything else is waste. But what if we really don’t know? Then the most important business process is to find out. We have to learn what creates value for different customers in different situations. “Anything that does not contribute to learning is waste” as Eric Ries puts it. The business challenge for a creative company is to learn fast and cheaply!
Management theory needs to leave behind the industrial, mechanistic model of reality and the belief in linear if-then, causality. The sciences of complexity, non-linear dynamics, uncertainty and creative learning are the foundations of modern, human-centric management.
The task of managers is not the reduction of uncertainty but to develop the capacity to operate creatively within it. Ilya Prigogine wrote in his book “The End of Certainty” that the future is not given, but under perpetual construction: “Life is about unpredictable novelty where the possible is always richer than the real.”