We don’t do politics in this space but sometimes we find lessons for business in things that happen in that other world (OK, more like a different universe). You might have heard about the Sherrod disaster that’s played itself out over the last little bit. Basically, some video was taken out of context and made to appear as if a USDA employee had made racist statements when, in fact, she hadn’t at all. The media jumped on the story and eventually she was fired. Of course, as the real facts emerged, lots of people were embarrassed, including the media, the NAACP, the White House, and others. And all because they rushed.
This piece from Salon says it better than I can but let’s put the politics aside and learn. I am always suspicious when reading startling new information, especially in the media and doubly especially in press releases. Usually, someone with some agenda has made that information appear and it’s probably not the complete story. We’ve talked about the drill in ratings – with a growing audience every year, flat or slightly declining ratings will ALWAYS result in more viewers than the year before. So when I see a release that cites viewers but not ratings (percentages are consistent even if the bases aren’t!) I start asking questions. When an employee tells me something about another employee out of the blue that is way out of sync with all I know about the subject, I ask questions. So should you!
What’s the hurry and is the cost of slightly delayed action worth the consequences if you have the facts wrong? It wasn’t in this case, but it does do some good – it reminds us to listen before we speak and make sure of our facts when we do.