Ran into an interesting post by Seth Godin that got me thinking (yeah, that can be dangerous). Regardless of the amount of data, many, if not most decisions people make have more to do with how they feel about things than actual data.
Ever try to convince a teenager that it’s in their best interest to do their homework? Plenty of evidence that an easier time in life can be correlated to academic success, which in most cases, is tied to actually doing the work. Until that teenager believes this to be true and is confident that their time is going to be well spent, well, just fuggedaboutit.
Ever try to work with a customer who doesn’t trust you (or does trust you)? You could pile tons of material, testimonials, data, what have you, in front of them. If their mind is already made up, you’re stuck. If it’s not, you need to reach them with something that connects on an emotional level.
Ever try to convince a team working for you that the light they think they’re seeing isn’t a lightbulb of guidance, it’s the train getting ready to plow them over?
Have you paid much attention to the raging debates going on amongst our (I’m in the US) leaders? Many are convinced that we’re going to be bankrupt in a short period of time. Others believe that those people are wing-nuts. I’d bet that, in isolation, all of the interested parties have some pretty reasonable ideas, but faced with the need to win (defining winning as beating members of the opposite party).
From the perspective of managing a team, this means one thing to me. Get things right in the first place. Once your team or your customers form the wrong attitudes or opinions, your job just doubled. You not only have to do the right things (which could be a change), but you also have to find a way to convince your audience that you are indeed doing the right thing. Its much easier to work from a position of support than having to engender support.