It’s about time some stream of science addressed basic questions about what yardsticks are best for rating mankind’s advancements

If there is anything left on which an app has yet to be developed, it is on human relationships within an organisation. Be it a relationship involving one-to-one contact, one-to-many or many-to-many, there is often a feeling of tentativeness which leaves a sense of discomfiture with many stakeholders to the situation.

No psychologist, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst or anybody of that breed has been able to engineer a response to this, which is reasonably reliable or durable. In short, the human mind, the psyche, the cognitive system are so complex and their interpreters are so much at sea on these issues that the best of them is not able to fashion anything with some quality of predictive validity, on what intervention would trigger what response. It is, as if it were, the boundary lines of technological intervention being drawn on this issue.

The entire theory of predictive validity converts itself into a huge arc of grey in behavioural matters. Under these circumstances, sentiments of loyalty, friendship, reliability, fidelity or for that matter even enmity and dislike are difficult to sustain, maintain and be used as a platform of assurance. If everything is unpredictable, if everyone is changing — almost without a design, without caprice — from one moment to another, then how does one create a platform of sustainability and predictability?

This has almost universal ramifications. The issue of interpersonal relationships can be ignored only up to a point so far as running of an organisation is concerned. It also has ramifications on the working of groups. The gravity of this poser is obvious, if one only reminds oneself that organisations and groups are central to human existence.

It is widely felt that work in organisations very often gets done on the network of personal rapport and relationships. There is nothing “abnormal” about it. Then there is the question and act of “interpretation” within the high-flying domain of the decision-maker. The bandwidth of interpretation is so wide that a large number of matters can be settled from one end of the spectrum to another with decisions, which on the face of it, appear almost mutually incongruous. Obviously this opens the way for a lot of quips and at times misplaced sniping. Yet, from a behavioural point of view, this is totally understandable and capable of near-rational justification.

The above narrative raises certain fundamental dilemmas with reference to the scientific nature of human relationships or for that matter even scientific manner of running an organisation. However, if one conclusion is obvious, it is with reference to the intrinsic “value of data.” This is often times as good as the value of its interpretation and indeed the ability to see correlations of one component of data with another. Careers may be made in analytics. Demanding and providing statistical proof may be the favourite haunt of some people. But the day where an entire life could be programmed and existence of things living and matters dead could be fully programmed, alas, is not even on the horizon.

This simple reality plays havoc with coping strategies of life. It would also be worth reminding oneself that it puts organisations, as an entity, in a very vulnerable state. The text began with reference to interpersonal dynamics. Perhaps it is the ultimate trigger of all human action. It sought to establish how efforts to run an organisation are nettled with contradictions.

These dilemmas are nowhere being soluble or indeed, even, comprehensible in their entirety.

A simple extension of this line of thought would clarify the point further. It has to do with the nature of human achievement(s). Consider the act of mankind reaching the Moon and a man-made vehicle landing there. Clearly it’s a watershed in human history. It has been celebrated widely and, rightly so. Yet it was several years after the landing on the Moon that mankind realised that it would be a great deal simpler to carry a piece of luggage if one put wheels on it. Clearly it is the basic and everyday experiences of life, which need equal, if not more sustained attention, for evolution of mankind to be more sustained. It need not be a matter of debate to figure out which of the two events, referred to in preceding lines, is more conducive to human comfort.

No public answer can be given to these question. It’s about time some stream of science — biological, life, physical, social science or whatever — made it its business to address some very simple basic questions. What yardsticks are best for measuring human evolution? What is the price payable for rapid growth? Are there limits to technological intervention? Perhaps a part answer lies in looking at the life of tribals, who have endured endless neglect, inanity, not to forget prosecution and yet managed to survive without losing their moorings.