16 September 2018
We are all guilty of making an instant call on things. We look at people and make a decision about them based on what they wear, how they speak, who they associate with or what they do for a living. Whether we consciously do so or not, it is human nature to link the people we meet with people we already know who are like them.
Or we decide we don’t want to go to a certain event because the last one of that type that we went to was a waste of time. It’s all too easy to make a snap judgement based on what you already know or believe.
When I was a younger businessman, all of my decisions were made on a gut feeling. I had an idea of how to fix something and I implemented it. Now, whilst I may be the CEO of the business, the decisions I make are rarely my own. They are based on facts and figures, data around the business and information from our team of analysts.
A gut decision
Recently I made a change in our account management team, moving some of the team over to become service managers. This was in a bid to further improve our service and increase our NPS score. Account managers are the team who look after our client base, ensuring that they have the technical solutions and support they need for their businesses. Service managers would be a new link between account managers and technical support.
Shortly after I made the change, our director of commercial finance came to me and asked why I had made that decision. It turns out she had analysed the figures and I had made the wrong call. Service hadn’t improved but morale had dropped, so we reversed it. Taking time to analyse the impact and gather all of the facts, we were able to work out what was best for the team, for the business as a whole and for our clients.
There are so many examples that I could reel off where having the full set of facts has made all of the difference yet as a society we seem to be heading further into the direction of forming opinions based on very little information.
The full story
I recently read an article that quoted an April Fool experiment by American news outlet NPR. They had posted a controversial tweet asking why America doesn’t read any more. When readers clicked through to the article they were greeted with a message that revealed the post was an April Fool to see how many people read the whole article and how many people started a debate or commented online based solely on the accompanying tweet and headline. Interestingly a huge proportion of people simply commented on the tweet without reading the post, ironically defending their reading habits.
It’s a pattern we see time and again. I’ve seen it with my own content shared online. If you read the whole post, the content is quite different to the assumption you could make from the title. Unfortunately, it seems media outlets are fuelling this behaviour. Not to mention the Fake News phenomenon.
Sadly, well-balanced stories don’t sell newspapers or generate clicks. That means more and more stories are being published where only the most controversial sections of the truth are being shared. These stories whip up a frenzy of attention. They drive more web traffic and generate more money for the media outlets. Would that same revenue be generated by a well-balanced, fully factual story? Perhaps the need to drive more revenue trumps the need to share full information in the modern world.
In an age where information is instant and deposable, how do we make sure we have all of the facts? For a start, we need to make sure that people are comfortable to share their opinions without being lambasted!
A political minefield
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has this week said that many of his conservative employees in America are too scared to talk about their political beliefs because the backlash that they receive is so strong and aggressive.
You only have to mention the word Brexit on social media these days to find yourself in the middle of a debate, which neither side can win. It’s an impossible conversation so less and less people are talking about it. The end result – we don’t get the best outcome because less people feel comfortable sharing their views and the divides brought up by the referendum continue.
At the end of the day when we make these snap judgements, in business, in politics or personally, we are alienating ourselves a huge section of the world. From people who could become great friends or partners, from opportunities that could be life changing and from healthy debate.