Facts: Much to do about nothing – or quite the contrary?
‘Facts’ like statistics, can either be very insightful or actually prove to be somewhat unhelpful. Consider the following 10 facts:
- 88% of plane crashes occur in the first three minutes or the last eight minutes of a flight (reassuring as I am writing this in the middle of a seven hour flight to Zurich!)
- It is impossible to hum while holding your nose
- The Statue of Liberty wears size 879 shoes
- Only 22 of the world’s 193 countries have never been invaded by the British
- In the time it takes you to read this sentence, 50 000 cells in your body will die
- Samsung’s first product was dried fish
- Two-thirds of British children aged five to 13 can work a DVD player, but fewer than half can tie their shoelaces
- Santa has his own postal code – HOH OHO – in Canada
- The small pocket in the front of jeans was designed for pocket watches
- At any one time, 45 million people in the world are drunk
So, facts can either say a lot about nothing or nothing about a lot. If you were to ask 10 people within your company to come up with a list of 10 random ‘facts’ about your company, what would they list? How important would that list be in helping you gauge something about the reality, as it exists within your company? It might prove to be both a fun exercise as well as one that provides some interesting insights. Why not try it? If nothing else it could lead to some interesting discussion around perceptions, reality, your culture and what is or isn’t important.
Random facts can help reveal difficult to discern patterns; they can surface things that might have been hidden from plain sight or help spotlight something that could prove to be critically important. They may give rise to insightful questions or provide a previously unthought-of of perspective. They may also obscure what really needs to be looked at or seen; they may mask important stuff and clutter things to the point of distraction. They may serve as ‘smoke and mirror’ to reality or may drive the wrong behaviour. One person’s ‘facts’ might prove not to be another person’s ‘facts’ and therein sit the complexity of perception and reality as defined from different vantage points and perspectives.
So, what ‘facts’ dominate your environment and given what surfaces (through those lists), what does this tell you?
And …you can stop holding your nose now and finally admit that humming whilst doing so is in fact …impossible.
Oh…and lastly: in case you are one of those 45 million people…a popular Roman cure for a hangover was deep-fried canary.