Friday, February 26, 2010

What Do You Know?

There are things you know to be true, things that are probably true, that might be true, and those things that you hope are true. Unfortunately we can sometimes confuse them, particularly when ‘selling’ a point; whether that is an idea within our business or in politics.

I think there are relatively few things we know to be true. That men walked on the moon is probably true, but I do not personally know it to be true. There is a lot of evidence from credible sources that men walked on the moon, including eye witness testimony that I have heard myself. I do not doubt it. But I do not know it. Marketing outcomes that cannot be measured necessarily fall into the “might” or “hope” categories. Many questions of Faith also fall into the category of “hope’, regardless of the strength of one’s belief. The certainly of belief and what you know to be true are not necessarily the same. Not being an expert in the field nor having spent enough time doing the research, much of my opinion about Health Care reform is what I hope to be true. The classic HIPPO (highest paid person in the room) example can be restated as an example of the unfounded optimism of hope.

In my experience, it is a lot of work to sort out and remember the difference between what you know, what might be, or hope to be. Sometimes being a little fuzzy on what is what does not matter much. Selling an “artistic” judgment call about marketing creative as “best” may harm no one. But sometimes knowing the difference does matter. If you are judging another person’s character, I think it matters a lot.