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The Appliance of Science

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

We are deeply committed to science at the Knight Index. However it is very much one-way traffic. Science doesn’t give a stuff about us. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Science just is. To appropriate a theme tune, “…it’s like the changing of the seasons and the tides of the sea.”

Science is therefore the finest testing medium available.

Politicians who were vainglorious enough to say “I think this country has had enough of experts” were rowing back - like the owl and the pussycat in a pea green thunderstorm – to the scientific harbours of expertize provided by Chris Whitty, Jonathan Van-Tam, Sarah Gilbert and the like, once Covid started to bite.

The jaws of Covid have taken more chunks out of white-collar working practice than out of almost anything else. And the Knight Index has applied science to the results; one hundred years of it, including twenty years of personal applied research and 15 months of trans pandemic study. This means that we have exquisite scientific insight into hybrid working; what works, what doesn’t, what to do and what to avoid.

The data are crystal clear. The new world requires the operation of three key levers over which managers have control. These are autonomy, trust and resource. Use these correctly and your business will thrive.

You will notice that many of the many touted solutions to hybrid working, be it biophilia, three days in the office, a return to things as they were, the four-day week and so forth are not on that short list of requirements.

This is because, on their own, they are not solutions.

Here is what the science says. For a workplace to operate smoothly, happily and effectively it requires the following:

  1. Impartiality: Apply science to your business. This is impartial science, do not buy ideas that management likes, or courses that dish out nice belts or offer diplomas for an office wall. Avoid colour/cod psychology even if the MD’s partner is a practitioner. Science. Use evidenced scales and modelled data. In short use stuff that will give you impartial accurate data about what to do for the best (Achtung: Consultants rarely, if ever, use science (regardless of price tag). They have their own solutions they want to fit to your problems).

  2. Guts: Throw out that which does not work. The whole point of science is that it provides impartial results. So don’t fiddle with data because they aren’t what were wanted. If the results support your methodology, great stuff. But if the science shows that a company's preferred ideas are lacking, then have the guts to change.

  3. Big, grown up pants: The majority of problems in business are cause by bad management. This is largely because management is constantly looking to hog the centre ground of business. Remember those three levers of Autonomy, Trust and Resource? By definition, pulling those levers means that management will no longer be leaping about like a toddler on granny’s hearth rug, demanding that the Chief Exec pays attention while cooing and lobbing sweeties (“I can do agile, watch me, wheee!”). Science points to wider ranging solutions being far better than most of those arrived at in the playpen of the Boardroom.

It is a new world. Old methods didn’t work all that well up until 2019, they are all but useless now. Yet the future possibilities and pitfalls are enormous, far bigger than were available before Covid. As we leave that horrible time behind us, there is only one sure way to navigate through the awful to the brilliant. Use science and thrive.

We are here to help. Do make contact.

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