Facts are not enough

“She had seen her home distilled into a sterile list of facts. Each was individually true, but the list conveyed nothing of what it sounded like when a flock of ravens wheeled into the sky…”

–Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Many people wants to make decisions just based on facts, believing that they are objective and rational human beings. Even if you create the most objective and rational decision making process. A subjective human being has created the process and chosen the facts to look at.

The other problem with just looking at data points is that you miss the context they are created in. Data points can’t be interpreted without connections and stories. And stories without data can be unreliable.

This is the difference between Big data and Thick data: Big data, gives us a lot of data and facts. Thick data will instead gives us the context and the stories. Both are needed.

Overdoing strengths

She has wanted to sleep with other people, of course. One or two in particular. But the truth is she has good impulse control. That is why she isn’t dead. Also why she became a writer instead of a heroin addict. She thinks before she acts. Or more properly, she thinks instead of acts. A character flaw, not a virtue.

– Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation

Sometimes I would rather have less impulse control instead of overthinking everything. At other times I’m really happy that I thought a bit longer and not just said whatever was in my head.

All strengths are great until you overdo them and then they become some of your biggest weaknesses:
– Attention to detail vs pedantic
– Funny vs mocking
– Caring vs over-protective
– Good listener vs Silent
– Storyteller vs Talkative
– …

What is perfectly obvious might not be the same thing for everyone there

“Sometimes what goes without saying is best said anyway.”

– Iain M. Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

One of the most common mistakes that I see other people do, and my self quite often as well: It is to end a meeting or a conversation without summing up what was decided upon. It might seem perfectly obvious to you, and it probably is perfectly obvious to all the other people there. The problem is that in many cases what is perfectly obvious might not be the same thing for everyone there.

Do you want to feel more in control or make a difference?

“If you wanted to feel you were still somehow in control of a ship or a fleet or even your civilisation, talking amongst yourselves seemed to be the way you convinced yourself of it.”

– Iain M. Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

The reason most people set up a meeting is to gather more information and to make decisions. The problem is that most people get stuck in gathering more information, either because they are not very good at facilitating that type of discussion or they are really afraid of making a decision. The easiest decision to make is to decide to have another meeting about the topic. Usually we don’t need another meeting to talk. It is much better to make a decision, start working according to it, and decide on a when to meet and evaluate how it is working out.