In God we trust? Prove it

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Rey-Elbo_445702a8fc23d860c0d0e8cde70a7d94ON Facebook, I encountered a no-brainer of a question: “Which country does not have any letter ‘A’ on its name?” First on our list is the Philippines—where a thin line separates comedians, mental patients, ex-convicts, and politicians. Others come to our mind like Peru, Turkey, Mexico, Chile, Morocco, and so on.

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You’ll probably add other countries to beat the list of another “contestant” until someone else beats your list, until another Tom, Dick, and Harry comes in with at least 30 or 40 countries to the other 375 or so participants, including those who in their ignorance listed capital cities.

In a different context, if you’re interested in some sophisticated topic like Lean Six Sigma, you may have encountered another intriguing question on social media: “Why does lean implementation fail 95 percent of the time?” As soon as this is posted on the wall of a certain group, you’re sure to get varied answers from various continents. When I checked it yesterday, the answers came in from more than 436 self-proclaimed experts who crafted a one-liner to a full-length article that could compete with those written by someone with a Ph.D. (Passed High School with Difficulty).

If you’re the type of person who normally gives your two cents worth to any social media group, you’ll likely gain celebrity status as the “top influencer.”

Going back to the two questions, why are some people trigger-happy answering without knowing the wisdom, value, validity or accuracy of the questions? For instance, when you ask people why you want to know those countries without the letter “A” on its name, what are you trying to gain out of it? What’s the significance of that issue, anyway? If people can submit as many countries, then what’s next?

Sometimes, I can’t help but to think these questions are designed by loners.

On the Lean Six Sigma question, when I posed a challenge to the proponent to prove his statement that “95 percent of lean implementation fails,” he was honest enough to admit though in circuitous statements that he was not in possession of any scientific data. Instead, he admits that his intention was to attract answers, no matter how stupid the question appears to be.

That’s what makes social media dangerous. Much of the information in Q&A form doesn’t make sense at all. In fact, they’re hopelessly senseless to me like one group of people managers who competed in various degrees of authority answering a question from a member:

“If I absconded with the money of my boss, do you think he would fire me? First things first, is that a ground for dismissal? What is the generally-accepted form of penalty in the industry? Can I ask for forgiveness by telling my boss that I’ve seven mouths to feed?”

In about a fraction of a millisecond, around 10 answers would pop out of nowhere giving various “expert” advice to a guy who was born yesterday. Sometimes, out of a flurry of these various opinions a clarificatory question would pop out: “How much money do you plan to steal?”

OK. Maybe I’m too old to understand the intricacies of social media. But I can tell you that even at my age (Forever 51), I subscribe to the creation of a new agency to be called the Department of Common Sense as championed by presidential candidate Mar Roxas.

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was right: Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” Now, what? OK, here’s the beef. Think first a thousand times, before opening your mouth. Better yet, I will tell you that the first thing that comes out of your mind is wrong. If you’re not sure about it, paraphrase your thoughts. Instead, ask a diplomatic question: Can I whack your head?

Therefore, before handling them, all statements even questions must be proven first. In God we trust? Everyone must bring verifiable, factual, and objective data.

Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to elbonomics@gmail.com or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random thoughts on management.

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