Useful constructs

We find knowledge (and express it) by dividing the world into grids and segments, and explaining how this organization works.

The periodic table is a useful construct.

Useful constructs are replicable and they’re predictive.

If I tell you the rules needed to organize the elements, you’ll come up with the same table as every other scientist.

And if you know where something is on that table, you can make accurate predictions about how the element will behave.

On the other hand, race is not a useful construct. Neither is ethnicity. It’s not a replicable approach—every person who tries to organize other humans by race will come up with a different system. And it’s not predictive—it doesn’t tell us anything about how someone will act going forward.

Engineers build their work around useful constructs. And often, people who are in politics waste their time arguing about constructs that aren’t useful at all.

If we’re going to influence the culture, grow our organizations, lead people and engage in the marketplace, finding useful constructs (as opposed to established superstitions) is essential work.