Friday, April 23, 2010

Facts v. Opinions

Facts v. Opinions

There are facts and there are opinions. On the other hand, there are facts and there are facts. Here's the metaphor:

A group of wonderful people are going to rehabilitate a 16 unit building in a fancy neighborhood. You know: SoHo, NoHo, BooHoo, one of those places. They invite 16 interior designers (one unit each) to do a complete makeover. Wall treatments, window treatments, floor covering, furniture, accessories, and so on.

Now, the night before the big unveiling, (when no one is around to get hurt) the building collapses. Everyone hurries down to stare (aghast) at the site. There, with his political wisdom and insight, Mayor Bloomberg calls Donald Trump and asks him to come down and take a look at what happened. Upon his arrival, Mr. Trump asks to see the blueprints. The city engineer shows Mr. Trump the blueprints. Mr. Trump shakes his head.

"This is no good," he says. "Supporting walls were removed. New walls were not able to support the upper floors. The floors that were replaced were not structurally sound. The wonderful people who rehabilitated this building should have called me in first to check the plans and make sure the building wouldn't fall down."

What a shame. All those beautiful opinions and no facts. Well, not quite.

  • The fact is, the designers were all brilliant and creative.
  • The fact is, all the window treatments, floor treatments, wall treatments were tasteful and done with products known to be of the highest quality.
  • The fact is, the furniture was tasteful, expesive, elegant.
  • And so on.

All facts. None related to the structural integrity of the building.

The argument could be made that the interior design was actually a matter of opinion. But what cannot be argued is that the structural soundness of the building was not a matter of opinion. It was a matter of facts not taken into consideration. (Evidenced by the fact that the building collapsed.)

The ability of a manager to filter out the opinions from the facts when dealing with issues is important. Just as crucial is having employees who can differentiate between facts and opinions. Not having opinions included can cause hurt feelings. But we are not decorating an apartment. We are working to make sure the building does not fall down.




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

The New Age Biz Wiz

The New Age Biz Wiz:

I remember my humble beginnings as a broker 35 years ago. (Basically, it was nothing more than a sales job. Entry level, customer service, trainee.)

Now, youngsters are "one with the computer". They move millions, hundreds of millions, of dollars around the globe in minute by minute transactions. Analogous to my becoming an air traffic controller at a busy airport or going on the Ed Sullivan show to keep those plates spinning on sticks. When these youngsters engage in this activity, they earn (or lose) "lots and lots of" money for the companies they work for. We become enraged when big bonuses are payed out. The problem is that we don't only reward the successful. We also reward the failures.

Some twenty-five years ago, an editor said, "we lose money on eight out of ten books we publish". I could never figure out why publishers didn't fire those editors and hire editors able to lose money on only seven out of ten books they publish and increase the rate of success by 50%.

Another analogy is NBC moving Jay Leno from the 11:30 spot because they were afraid of losing Conan O'Brien. (op. cit. all that stuff reported on that bit of media wizardry.) What happened to the old b-school adages? Do they really no longer apply? True, those were the days before the front-page glamour of leveraged buyouts and junk bonds, however, the recent debacles seem to suggest people are more interested in coming up with new and creative ways of doing business than with doing business.

The future: Avatars as a comforting visual for the artificial intelligence running the business of the future that will be beyond the capabilities of mortals.

Remember "The Forbin Project"?




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview

Group Norms


Normal; of and/or pertaining to the norms.
Norms; prevalent characteristics of a demographic subset.

Take a group of people, perhaps in a corporation or company--accounting, marketing, or the most affable of all, sales. Your choice.

Take three groups in one, or one group from each of three. Now let's take a look at what we have.

a. The group eats in the same restaurant every Friday and splits the check with each person paying his or her own share. (Sounds like the accounting department.)

b. The second group never eats in the same restaurant twice. The bill is divided evenly among the members of the group. (Sounds like marketing.)

c. In the third group, each week a different member picks the restaurant and picks up the tab for all. (Sounds like sales.)

Each group, for the purposes of this discussion, has group norms:

  • how to decide where to eat
  • how to divide the bill

These are the prevalent characteristics of the three demographic subsets. (My satirical remarks not withstanding.)

These are the "norms of the group".

An essential aspect to the cohesion of the groups is the individuals' embracing the norms of the group.This dos not now, nor has it ever been claimed to be, an objective right or wrong; good or bad; superior or inferior. These examples do, however, demonstrate a difference or differences. Diversity, if you will. And diversity is firmly rooted in the word diverse.

Successful management will recognize these factors and do little or nothing to disrupt them. The personnel problems arise when a member of one group moves to another group. An essential to employee orientation is to convey the concept of norms and to be certain new employees understand them.




Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview