In the course of the successive phases of industrialization, the company that acquired managerial traits, wearing the work dress with a blue collar for the workers and white for the employees and executives, overshadowed the figure of Homo ludens. ‘Ptolemaic knowledgists’ whose movements are determined by the immutable map of existing knowledge lead the managerial enterprise. As experts who strive for perfection, managers are used to drawing it in a very detailed way, comparable to the cartographic maps described by Jorge Luis Borges in his writing “The rigor of science”:
In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it.
In managerial enterprises, a sense of security matters both as a way of life and as an asset to be protected. Managers combine innovation with words such as continuity, incrementalism and viability. Nassin Taleb invented the word ‘fragilista’ to describe a person who loves ‘order and predictability’, and who suffers from ‘random events, unpredictable shocks, stressors and volatility’.
The age of knowledge in which we are now living reflects the Age of Unreason heralded by Charles Handy (1989) with these words: ….we are entering an Age of Unreason, when the future, in so many areas, is there to be shaped by us and for us; a time when the only prediction that will hold true is that no predictions will hold true; a time, therefore, for bold imaginings in private life as well as public, for thinking the unlikely and doing the unreasonable.
The present age can only be that in which the entrepreneurial enterprise forged by Homo ludens and her ‘unreasonableness’ comes to the fore. It is comparable to the ‘bottega’ (workshop) of the Renaissance age, which was the co-working place where talents were nurtured, new techniques and new artistic forms came to light; artists competing but also ready to work together.
If the managerial enterprise is the place of job seekers, the entrepreneurial enterprise is a work of art entrusted for its execution to job creators. In the entrepreneurial enterprise, people are co-creators and intrapreneurs rather than mere performers of tasks assigned in a top-down way. Neither geniuses nor solitary rebels, intrapreneurs are generators of cognitive conflicts that contribute a great deal to breaking deep-rooted rules. They abandon the opportunities of today, which conform to prevailing habits, and navigate the absurd, looking for business ideas that may seem ridiculous and dangerous, believing, like the ancient Greeks, that ‘a probable impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility’.
The Homo ludens of the entrepreneurial enterprise makes co-creators and intrapreneurs play, for fun and competition together, communicating with each other consistently and fluidly in order to facilitate mutual understanding. The coexistence of and collision among these diverse talents make the enterprise a lively place where dialogue allows the flowering of constructive conflicts. The clash and confrontation of opposing views remove cognitive boundaries, mitigate errors, and help people question existing truths.
In the art of Homo Ludens to create entrepreneurial enterprises we can grasp the desire and the will not to submit human beings to technology, not to transform them into Animal laborans – as Hanna Arendt would say – enslaved to the will of technology. Otherwise, their doing would be comparable to the manual work of past industrial revolutions. Think, for example, of the smartest machines, which can alert their human handlers when they will need maintenance, or the cyborg, bionics and computer prosthesis, which give the human body the characteristics of the machine.