Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Finding Answers–Less Emotion and More Data

I wrote a blog over the weekend entitled Politics and the Fortuitousness of Calamity where I discussed the unfortunate habit of some politicians to use disaster as an opportunity to promote their own brand.  In the process of doing so, most politicians like this are smart enough to mix in some benevolent actions in order to keep their followers blind regarding their leader’s intentions.

While I haven’t had an opportunity to respond to the 843 emails I have received as of the posting of this blog, there is one thing that I have noticed.

Of the approximately 8% who disagree with me, 95% of those, including public dissenters such as Vitor Marciano, the Press Secretary for Opposition Leader Danielle Smith, have responded with taunts, insults and attempts at intimidation to convince me to take the blog down.

I could have directed them to blogs such as Anger: Setting Yourself Up For Manipulation, Asking Questions That Get Answered or Solving Puzzles–Follow the Breadcrumbs but such blogs only make emotion-laden / fact-less taunters more angry. :-)

It appears that they believe that strong (ala intimidation-based), emotion-laden actions are enough to convince someone to change their actions or to take different actions.

It reminds me of this story.

A teacher was giving visiting parents a demonstration of the acumen of his students and selected a student named Billy for the demonstration. 

“Billy”, said the teacher, “If Jane gives you two cats, Bob gives you two cats and Fred gives you two cats, how many cats do you have?”

Billy responded quickly by saying “I will have seven cats.”

The teacher smiled patiently and then repeated the scenario to Billy, to which Billy gave the same answer.

The teacher cleared his throat, somewhat embarrassed before his audience and then said “Billy, if I give you two apples, Jane gives you two apples and Bob gives you two apples, how many apples will you have?”

“Six”, replied Billy.

“Correct”, replied the teacher, now speaking sternly “and so why ….”

At that moment, one of the exasperated parents yelled out “For God’s sake, kid, why do you think you have seven cats then?  Are you an idiot?”

“Because”, replied Billy calmly, “I already have a cat at home.”

Such stories serve as a reminder that when we seek answers to questions, kindness, respectful dialog and seeking to understand the facts will go a lot further than merely assuming we know all the answers (or that the other person is automatically wrong) and subsequently using intimidation tactics to prove it.

When anger or other emotions rule the day we also tend to make additional mistakes.  Mr. Marciano made the additional error of attempting to guess my motivation for writing the blog by attempting to extrapolate an intention from my business background instead of looking at some glaringly obvious data points.  If he had conducted his research into my background in a methodical, fact-based manner (with the necessary data plainly described on my website here , here and in other places) instead of in a rushed, anger-laden manner, he would have uncovered some insight as to why I wrote the blog and how to approach me about it.

And there’s nothing more frustrating to an emotion-laded person than a fact-based person who won’t rise to respond to taunts and intimidation. :-)

Guessing or totally ignoring the facts rarely produce desirable outcomes unless one is incredibly lucky or the target in the dialog is susceptible to being bent by the intimidation of others.

When seeking to understand the intention of another, do you engage that person with fact-based dialog in a respectful way or do you assume you already know the answer and attempt to bend the other person to fit your “answer”?

And … what happens if you “win” and then suddenly discover you are wrong?

In service and servanthood,



In my line of work as a strategy advisor, very large-scale IT architect and investment capital generator, I am highly sensitive to the importance of authenticity, transparency, character, strategy and legitimacy in leadership.  However, I am most sensitive to these attributes when it comes to political leadership regardless of political stripe. 

Why?  It is because when we get it right in the political arena, most of society thrives but when we get it wrong, everyone in society suffers.  I believe that how well our politicians are enabled (or not) is far more pervasive, important and impactful than is the case with most business leaders.

1 comment:

  1. Harry,

    Spot on!!

    One of my favorite business persons is James J. Hill, CEO of the Great Northern Railroad. He said it correctly, "Just so the wealth of the country, its capital, its credit, must be saved from the predatory poor as well as the predatory rich, but above all from the predatory politician."

    To help "fix" an economy, I recently read "The Mystery of Capital" by De Soto. It heavily influence my thinking, both the increase capital, but how to help the poor realize more of their dreams.