Art Vs. Science


I’ve been thinking about the difference between solutions that involve “art” and solutions that involve “science.”

The approaches are vastly different, yet we often fail to do identify which we’re looking at.

Here’s some examples:

When you’re working on solutions of science, people have paved the path for you. Science-like work has been figured out by smart people (they’ve spent years developing methods), and there are some very logical steps that you can take (or not) that will yield fairly predictable results.

Work that is more a science looks like: Budgeting, structuring your company, selling, growing your team.

When you’re working on art, there’s no set path, and there’s no right answers. In fact, if you’re following a path you’re probably not going to create great art.

Work that is more an art looks like: creative new solutions, tweaking a business model, setting a vision, relationship building within your customers or your employees, inspiring people.

  • One is habitual, the other is predictable.
  • One is “follow processes,” the other is “follow directions”.
  • One is development, the other is diagnostic.


Let’s say you’re seeking a solution to a problem you’re stuck on. If it’s more a science, we need to find tactical help. Guides, how-to’s, or people with a specific skill that can show us exactly how to break down a road block. There’s a teacher out there who will tell you how to get it done.

If it’s an art, this is trickier. You can’t just apply some researched item to it. There’s some self development that’s needed to solve the problem you’re working on. You need to create new environments for yourself. Sometimes you just need to grow as a person to overcome the challenge.

It seems to me it’s much harder to find help on the art side of things. Being that there aren’t very clear answers, and that the only type of help you can receive needs to be specific to your situation. You need someone who has broader context for who you are, what you do, and what your goals are.

Maybe this is why most marketers shy away from art based solutions. It’s too hard to hit mass market with them. Many art solutions are about tailored help.

It’s possible you bought a solution to your “art” problem that was really scientific in nature. Or the opposite. It’d be like hiring a shrink to help you maintain proper accounting practices in your business.

Of course every profession and role needs both, and in different amounts at different times. But knowing which type of solution to apply is key to solving the problem.

Without the right context, you’re either wandering in the woods when there’s a clear cut path that will get you from A to B, or you’re using someone else’s guidebook when you need to be improving your own sense of direction.

Have you been confusing the two?