Happy Birthday, Periodic Table

Happy Birthday, Periodic Table

You will likely remember the Periodic Table of Elements from your schooldays. Well, it just turned 150. It marked a milestone in the history of science. And what a thing of beauty the Table is... revealing the order and underlying structure of the universe.

That's something that inspires us. As educators we see it as our job to uncover the workings and coherence of the world of business. Let's take a quick look  back at how the Table came about.
The father of modern chemistry was, ironically, a tax collector. For that, Antoine Lavoisier found himself on the guillotine of the French revolution. But only after he had discovered 23 elements, and set off the hunt for the many more: Iodine (1811) and Silicon (1823), for example.  All these discoveries were, however, like unsorted jewels, with little logical connection.

Then along came a crazy diamond in Dmitri Mendeleev, who had his hair cut once a year by a shepherd with wool shears. He loved playing Patience and the card game gave him a flash of inspiration. He arranged the elements into a grid, with groupings - like card suits - revealing deep structural principles.

In Mendeleev’s own words, the periodic table "reveals the beauty and poetry of nature, allowing us to understand and grasp the whole symmetry of the scientific edifice".

Accounting’s own grid presents the elements of business – rights & obligations, assets, debt & equity, leverage, liquidity, value generation & sacrifice, surplus & deficit – and integrates them in a simple, useful and holistic  system.

Color Accounting’s graphical BaSIS Framework turns 20 this year. It gives business students a view of the workings and generative power of that civilization-building adventure that is Business, Commerce and Enterprise.

Not quite the stuff of exploding supernovae, but enough to make managers shine.

To a brilliant you,