“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
― Sherlock Holmes
What is a fact?
Dictionary definitions essentially say it is information supported by data; something that is true; objective. We have previously looked at the importance of perspective in gathering and using data – calling “facts” into great question. Even without the dictionary, those of us with children understand this perspective. “He started it” is a accusatory mantra that even the great detective Holmes would find frustrating. So when we are trying to plow through the landscape of business tools and understand a good process for improving our results – what do we do? If there isn’t reliable factual information, do we just guess? Use instinct or personal preference? Recommendations or social media? None of these are great options. They are all dependent on someone else’s experiences. What worked for them, at a given point in time, with specific market conditions MAY NOT work for you. Hard to believe, right? The internet is filled with sites proclaiming “if you do it my way, you’ll get rich.” Not likely.
Facts that change
Good mentors, advisers, consultants – whatever the terminology won’t give you a path to follow. They will provide tools for you to find your own path. Think of this example. Henry Ford built cars. Lots of cars. He industrialized the assembly line, basically created the middle class with stable, good paying jobs, and would give you a car in any color as long as it was black. There is a great legacy in the US from the Ford Motor Company and his creations. If you were Elon Musk (cool thought), and building Tesla cars, does following the manufacturing practices of Henry Ford make sense? Is that a successful path? Why not? Ford was working with factual information. Simple answer: Facts are specific to their environment.
Extreme example, you weight 100 kg today. Go to the moon. You weight 16.5 kg. You change environment, the facts change. Ford was well known for paying factory workers enough to create a market for his cars. For Tesla or Ferrari – not a great idea. Increasing pay scales to that extreme would make them unprofitable. No one even suggests they attempt it, but still many “business gurus” sell that same philosophy of “do what I did.” It is a failing proposition.
Finding your own facts
We should learn lessons from success (and failure). Look for tools – not answers. Environment is both a place and point in time. Ford evaluated the marketplace, understood his product and manufacturing, his employees, and his customers. He built a very specific plan that worked in that environment. So how is that different from following a path? You should not evaluate the SAME variables. You need a data collection strategy to find out what’s important to you and your customers. Build a model of your environment, then map out your own path to success. If you need help, let us know. Comment below with specific scenarios and we’ll be glad to discuss.