Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Presidential Politics, Sushi, and Business Judgment

As I write this in January of 2008, campaigning is well underway for the office of the President of the United States. The election is still 10 months away but every other television advertisement is a political commercial of some type. Candidates are touting their positive characteristics and belittling their opponents.

In some ads the candidate will go on and on about how his adversary has changed his/her position on this issue or that. For the life of me I cannot figure out why this is so bad. In fact, I consider it a positive trait in most cases.

Let me explain.

My family loves sushi. They have visited their favorite restaurant so much that the chef and wait team know them by name, their preferred table, and their favorite dishes. Being from south Mississippi, I always considered raw fish as bait. You could say I was skeptical to the extent of being closed minded. I simply could not understand why someone would eat that stuff. But my wife and children liked the sushi so much that if I wanted to spend time with them (which I certainly did), I had to go to Sushi Yama (the restaurant of choice). And, you guessed it, I began trying a little of the sushi. I didn’t try much at first, but steadily I branched out in the taste testing arena. After about 6 months of testing and experimenting I became a sushi fan! I had changed my mind!

In thinking about changing of positions on issues, I certainly had flip-flopped. No sushi at all versus, maybe now, one of my favorite foods. Why did I begin thinking differently? This is easy folks….evidence! The unavoidable evidence was that the stuff was good indeed! When I had only the evidence of knowledge gained when 8 years old and bass fishing, which, by the way, was some 39 years ago, I was not open to anything new in this area of my life. But when faced with indisputable evidence of good taste, my mind was easily changed.

Now, back to politics. If a candidate believes a certain way, but then attains evidence that his belief is false or that there is a better way…shouldn’t they change their minds? Why of course! You know humans first believed the world was flat, but given better evidence, we changed our minds.

Does evidence have a place in business? Sure it does…just about everywhere. Everyday we go to work and ply our trade hoping that the gods of the market shine on us and our products and services are attractive enough to sell at a favorable price. We try lots of things to make ourselves, our products and/or services fly off the shelves. We watch, or should watch, closely what is selling and why. We study evidence. If something is working, we stick with it; if it is not and we don’t change we could be considered insane. One definition of insanity is, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”.

We humans have the ability to think and reason. In fact this is about the only thing that separates us from the animal world (that and the fact we put ice in our drinks!). If we don’t use these qualities of thinking and reasoning, however, it is as if we don’t have them, much like the person who does not read is no better off than the person who can read and doesn’t.

Evidence and reasoning…strong arguments for mind changing.

Here’s to the flip-floppers out there, and pass the spicy tuna rolls please.


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