17 Aug Schrödinger’s Business Cat
At this stage Quantum Physics is mostly theoretical (is there any other kind) with no guarantee that the theory may always work, but therein lies its’ beauty. Quantum physics is all about probabilities and supposed randomness. It deals with unseen energies to enhance the probabilities in the business, or in terms that business owners prefer – potentiality. Is there anyone in business who doesn’t feel there is potentiality in what they do? Generally we get into business because of the potential we see in it.
So let’s look at a couple of principles of Quantum mechanics.
When physicists use quantum mechanics to predict the results of an experiment, the only thing they can predict is the probability of detecting each of the possible outcomes. When we do marketing plans, projections, cash flows and such the only thing in business we can predict is the probability of success in each of our fields. One could argue that marketing agencies mainly work in the field of probability and marketing in a business, whether you are a 1 man band and doing it yourself or a multinational, works solely on probabilities, measuring them and mitigating risks to increase the probability of success. No matter the industry we all work in probabilities.
A particle’s state cannot be determined until it is measured. The weird supposition in all this is that a business’s success needs to be measured. How each business or person relates success is a personal choice. Success may be measured in terms of $$ or how you enhance someone else’s life or simply by the amount of time you get to spend with family, friends and pets. Which brings us to cats, specifically one cat…. Schrödinger’s cat. The popularity of shows such as Big Bang Theory (now I’m thinking about trains), has brought this theory into relative mainstream thinking. Contrary to popular belief it wasn’t just a cat in the box, it also included variables…poison, a hammer, a Geiger counter and some radioactive material. So until someone opened the box and observed the system, therefore measuring and collapsing the system into 1 reality, the cat is both alive and dead.
Measurements are so important in business. Sometimes we all get so tied up in our business, our lives, other people’s lives, that we forget to take stock of what we are doing. There is no doubt that businesses can be viewed as Schrödinger’s theoretical cat. There are variables that can affect what we do and it is these variables that we need to try to predict- competition, GFC’s, policy changes. Sometimes we just don’t know how our business is going, until we measure it. Neil Bohr took this a little deeper through his Copenhagen interpretation, which asserts that a particle is whatever it is measured to be (for example, a wave or a particle), but that it cannot be assumed to have specific properties, or even to exist, until it is measured. So in business perhaps success cannot be deemed to exist until it is measured.
What physicists do is try to predict the probability in each outcome- and I think that is what we do in business. Not only try to predict the outcome but we mitigate risk and follow the path with the most chance of success. There is no doubt business is unpredictable, like particles at the quantum level.
As business owners is there a way we can predict business outcomes? Measuring the success of past experiments is as good a place as any to start.
So we have probability and we have measurement. My last thought on this matter is as controversial as any – the Many-Worlds Theory.
According to a hypothesis devised by quantum physicist Hugh Everett, we live in a universe — or more accurately a multiverse — where timelines are constantly branching off and creating distinct and coherent worlds, each experienced by a different version of you It holds that as soon as there is potential in any object, there is potentiality for a series of parallel universes, with each universe containing a unique single possible state of that object. Strangely there is interaction between all these universes, that somehow permits all states to be accessible in some way and for all possible states to be affected in some manner. Stephen Hawking advocates this so it can’t be discounted.
It seems there is little doubt that the Many Worlds Theory can be related to business. Every decision we make, every meeting we have, every interaction we have with staff, clients or stakeholders can have a myriad of potential outcomes.
So whilst Quantum Mechanics is still theoretical, so too is business and what we can learn from it – the way we conduct our businesses on a day to day basis is limitless.