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  • Writer's pictureBud Sanders

Finding Truth in a #FakeNews World

“What is truth?” This has been a question that philosophers – and all people – have been asking since the beginning of time. You would think, in this amazing age of information in which we live, that it would be easier than ever to determine the truth, or at least, the truth about a particular matter. Unfortunately, it seems what we have is the exact opposite. It appears that more information also leads to more disinformation. More “alternate facts”, “versions of the truth” and, as we have come to refer to it in recent years, “fake news.”

The other evening, I decided to play a little game… There were some things going on in the world and I was curious how different news sources were reporting them. There are many ways to consume news these days and most of us, for good or for bad, tend to “tune in” to those sources that we have come to “trust”. Typically, that “trust” is based on the source having a similar world view, or said more to the point, that source has a track record of reporting things in such a way as to confirm what we already ‘know’ to be “true.”

It’s a good thing my sense of humor tank was full that night, because without it, I would have become quite depressed. The two competing news channels I toggled between (I think you can probably figure out which two) were reporting on the exact same situation with equal amount of passion and vehemence. So far, so good! Nothing wrong with a little passion! However, one was essentially saying, “That flower is yellow! And anyone who thinks that it’s blue should be pitied.” Meanwhile the other station was reporting the equivalence of, “That flower is so blue! Anyone who thinks it’s yellow is crazy”. We’ve all seen it! Back and forth I went, the whole while just shaking my head. Shaking my head because, when it comes down to it, most of us know the truth to be something different still – that is that the flower in actuality… is green!

While this obviously presents a problem in everyday life through creating division and so forth (another post for another time), it also creates a problem when it comes to running your business. Anyone who has spent any time around me at all has heard me refer to my mental model of a decision continuum. The model starts with information and belief systems that lead to your decisions that ultimately lead to results and outcomes. This model can be applied equally well to anything from what your opinions about the topics of today’s society to the next big strategic decision you need to make in your business.

Two key points about it that I want to share briefly…

First, if the results and outcomes you are experiencing are not what you would like, obviously you should probably rethink some of your decisions. Many people and stop there, though, and don’t go one step further back to their prior information leading to that decision. What data is leading you to the decisions you’re making? Is it accurate? Are you basing your decisions on truth? And is it complete?

The second point concerns that “complete” aspect. It’s extremely rare that we have complete information to make any decision. Often, we need to supplement this “hard data” with other beliefs or narratives concerning, “what we believe to be true”. In the absence of data, our predispositions and belief systems concerning a situation dictate our decision-making process. And if those belief systems are off, the burden is high for any “hard data” to change your mind – and your decisions – to allow you to get to better outcomes and results.

This is an area in which Strategic Oversight Services loves to help our clients! We love challenging status quos and getting folks to think differently about their situations. We love helping you go back to those, sometimes long held, beliefs that are limiting factors to your organizations growth and ultimate impact. “Lighting the Path Toward Truth” is not just a tagline for us, it’s literally how we define our mission!

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