Consistently attributed to physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who had no time for sloppy thinking, ‘not even wrong’ has become a category in its own right. It’s not bad thinking, its not even wrong! I love the concept and I love the extension of the spectrum, good to bad. I suppose at the other extreme, there is the ‘beyond extraordinarily good’.
Somehow, good to bad was just too small a distance for Pauli. His impatience gave us the freedom to call something that is truly bad, not even wrong. And ‘not even wrong’ means it’s not even worth saying how bad it is.
It would be healthy to be able to say that some hypotheses about human behaviour, or assumptions about employee engagement, or an approach to leadership, are ‘not even wrong’. Clarity, honesty, candour are qualities in short supply in our day to day management.
The other extreme would also be fantastic. Imagine the categories ‘beyond brilliant’, ‘incredibly awesome’ or ‘astoundingly exceptional’. ‘Remarkable’ does it for me; with my team we are in the business of building remarkable organizations.
Business language does not like hyperboles but we need some of them to deal with the rather dull business idiom. I welcome the stretches on both extremes: from ‘not even wrong’ to ‘out of this world’. Let’s experiment with this thinking.
Acknowledgement: inspired by my son who often refers to my jokes as ‘not even funny’!