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Which myths are holding you back?

In your business you have “facts”. Things that are considered to be true. Lots of folks have heard of them, or believe them, and propagate them. But are they true? You are making decisions every day based on these “facts”.

Obviously, we have to believe something. But today I’m asking you to be skeptical. Question your facts.

Let me give you an example. I’m a Canadian, and looking out my window right now, I can see a pretty healthy snow fall accumulating. Lots of the white stuff. Brings to mind the fact that some cultures in the far north have over 100 words for snow.

Hang on. Is that a fact? Tell me- have you heard a variation of that?

I’m sure I read that somewhere. I’ve heard others mention it. It makes sense- I mean, people living in the far north would see lots of snow, and would know all about it, and so their language would evolve to encompass lots of different qualities of snow.

Sounds good.

Only, is it? It’s an idea that “just makes sense”. People seem to just accept it as soon as you say it. People are likely to pass the idea along to others- because it makes a compelling story.

But in fact, it’s wrong. I’ll let you google to your hearts content if you like to find more evidence than my say so, but after reading a number of articles on the subject, (here is an example, and of course the Wikipedia entry.) it seems clear that there are not 100 words for snow in any language. In fact, English has about the same number of ways of talking about snow as languages from societies in the far north.

So the point of all this is- what myths do you have in your organisation? Things that “everyone” knows are true. Things that when they are explained to you make “perfect sense”. Things that you teach to every new hire so that they “know how things are”.

The insidous thing about “facts” is that once they gain purchase, any contrary evidence tends to be called an “exception”, or discounted.

Use data to find out what is true. Fight to improve the quality of your data to find more and more new truths. Question the status quo if the data contradicts it. Don’t assume that something is wrong with the data when “things don’t make sense.” Maybe they don’t make sense because your assumptions are just plain WRONG.

Be very aware that you might be making decisions based on myths that while sounding so plausible, so clear, so common sense, are pure fantasy.

The good news is that all your competitors might be doing the same thing. If you look at your data, and see through it, you might show them all how wrong they are.

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