You’re probably familiar with Benjamin Franklin.
I wonder sometimes if all of the folks who say “it’s all about the benjamins” know why old Ben is on the hundred-dollar bill. They’d do well to pay attention to one of the things he had to say that ought to be a guiding principle of our business lives.
Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.
In know it’s not Tuesday (TunesDay here on the screed) but The Boss paraphrased this in his song, “Magic.” The lyric is “Trust none of what you hear / And less of what you’ll see”. He explained it this way:
The song ‘Magic’ is about living in a time when anything that is true can be made to seem like a lie, and anything that is a lie can be made to seem true. There are people who have taken that as their credo.
Bruce went on to make a political statement which we’ll ignore for the moment in favor of how that thinking can help us in business. Way too many managers rely on what they hear rather than what they see. They’re often behind closed doors, reading reports that others have spent many hours compiling. That’s kind of hearsay evidence in my mind. It’s someones interpretation of what the numbers say which may or may bot be accurate. As Bruce implies, people have their own agendas and they can twist numbers or facts to tell you their story, not THE story. However, our jobs as managers are way too demanding on our time for us to do everything, of course, so how do we manage that dilemma?
We do a couple of things. The first is that in the case of critical decisions we must gather information ourselves, and then trust only half of what we see as Ben advises. The second is that we must train others to be our eyes, not our ears. Then we need to remind them that they must “see” so you can. That means teaching them to dig for information which presents itself first-hand.
Get out from behind your desks. Wander around. Don’t rely on a quarterly report that’s passed through several sets of hands of people who may or may not be relaying the information in an unfiltered manner. If your reports tell you that you’re selling a lot and yet when you look in the warehouse it’s overflowing, ask questions. Trust what you see, half of it anyway. You’ll be seeing a lot more of Mr. Franklin that way – he’s the guy on the hundred. Won’t that be fun?