Second Opinions

One of my favorite books is “A Whack on the Side of the Head.”  It’s hard to believe that it’s 25 years old since the thought process it encourages is timeless.  I particularly like the notion of the second right answer.

Roger von Oech, the author, spends a good deal of time in the book disabusing the reader of everything we all learned in school about right answers.  His point is that while there may be a right answer in math class, there rarely is a single right answer in life.  The rest of the book features techniques to help you think a little differently and not to take the easy way out by thinking the “safe” answer is the only right one.

In emerging businesses such as the digital world, there is rarely one right answer yet many folks spend a lot of time seeking out that ONE result.  How many presentations have you sat through and asked yourself how the speaker could be SO sure that their product was THE solution when you knew there were two or three other answers to the problem the product was designed to solve?

I’ve always loved baseball.  It’s one of the few places where you can screw up six times out of ten and go to the Hall of Fame (and no one has ever batted .400 over a career!).  I don’t encourage screwing up but I do encourage thinking hard enough about solutions that the second or third or fourth right answer is found and discussed.  Sometimes that means taking a risk and sometimes you miss the ball.  But mistakes let us know when we need to change direction so we don’t get complacent.  I only asked my folks not to make the same mistake more than once.  They rarely did.

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