As usual we’re going to avoid politics today but I’m going to use a piece from a political site to make my point, if you don’t mind.
A political site picked up a story that a blogger did recently which was an analysis of presidential rumors on the site Snopes.com. the link is there for those of you that want to read the source material which reviews the number of rumors floating around on each president as well as the percentages of those proven to be true. The point isn’t the politics of this – it’s that someone took the time to find out.
Too often we see numbers or other points presented as “facts” when they are, at best, selectively chosen words used to advance our own arguments. As business people, we all need to remember that the entrance barrier to the internet is non-existent and in the process of doing whatever reasearch we’re doing we need to be highly selective in what data we choose to believe. If you can’t find a second source to back up your numbers, even directionally, you might want to note that if you present it. If the issue isn’t numbers but a review or some other interpretive data point, you must do enough due-diligence to figure out the accuracy of it.
When you take a step back and examine your presentation or report with a neutral eye (get someone else to present it to you), it’s pretty easy to figure out what should be challenged. Many of my friends on both the left and the right are horrible about forwarding on political emails without taking the time to see if they hold a grain of truth. Business people often do the same with non-political materials, often intentionally but a lot of the time by accident. Taking the time to check it out will save you, your managers, your customers, and your business a lot of headaches later on.