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By the time you read this, Comet Ison could be confirmed as a must for stargazers as it blazes across the December night sky, or it could be a damp squib which has fizzled out in the heat of the sun. Either way, the comet’s approach has given astronomers and programme makers alike a fantastic excuse for speculation and discussion.
Described by Jodrell Bank Observatory’s associate director, Prof. Tim O’Brien as “like throwing a snowball into fire,” the very unpredictability of the outcome of Ison’s encounter with the sun is part of its fascination. Should the mass and speed of the comet help it to survive the intense heat and gravitational forces of the sun, our night skies in December will be all the richer. As Prof. O’Brien said “There is a lot of uncertainty, but it’s going to be exciting to watch.”
But what, you may ask, has the uncertain outcome of the meeting of two titanic forces got to do with our normal topics of employee engagement and company culture? Simply this. The scientists may not know the outcome but at least they have mapped and tested and predicted to the limit of their current abilities. But in far too many instances the same cannot be said when two businesses come into contact with each other, either as part of a merger, to complete a joint project or in a supplier relationship.
Simple due diligence, looking at company cultures and values could highlight key differences and illustrate the path to success. Otherwise we are back to the uncertainty principle and it may be exciting to watch as cultural values collide but not for those involved.