Gartner Blog Network

Jumping to Conclusions (Look Beyond the Headline/Soundbite)

by Hank Barnes  |  March 12, 2019  |  Submit a Comment

We all (I think it is safe to say all here) suffer from sensory overload.   We are bombarded with information, data, and insights.   We fear we miss something important, so we often scan our feeds (Twitter, LinkedIn, RSS, and more) regularly.

Then we find something compelling–a great fact or a great headline.   And we jump on that.

Photo by Pete Johnson from Pexels

But that can be problematic.   The jump.   Because in the world of overload, we dig wide rather than deep.   And when we jump at data, we often jump to the wrong conclusions.  It is a lot like metrics.

Test yourself:  How often have you read a headline, then shared it or cited it, without fully reading the rest of the story?  And, if you have done so, how often has the interpretation, based solely on the headline, been wrong or off in some significant way.   For me, if I go down that path, it is often a miss (which is why I only share links to articles that I have actually read).

While it makes sense to simplify (when we find something interesting) that does not mean we should accept it at face value.  Gartner produces tons of interesting insights in all sorts of areas, but there are times when the simple form isn’t the best.  When we introduced the Enterprise Technology Adoption profiles, we  led with nicknames (“Practical”) rather than the Meyers-Briggs-like acronyms (“FCM”).   We quickly found people jumping to the wrong conclusions based on the nicknames.    Sure, they were easier on first blush, but they hid the key attributes.  Now we lead with the acronym, and follow with the nickname–when it makes sense.   A little harder to grok initially, but true understanding grows much faster.  And it helps our clients understand why a much greater percentage of “FIDs” are implementing enterprise-wide digital transformation programs that “FCMs.”

That is one example, but insights don’t stand alone. You can’t accept them as gospel truths.    They may apply to your situation or they may not (exactly).  There are some FCM companies that are making great progress on digital transformation.  That could be you or one of your customers.

The insight should trigger a desire to go deeper.  Look at situations in your own business and see where it applies.  The insight may fit perfectly.   It may not fit at all.  Or, usually, it will be somewhere in between.

The key is to do that extra work and introspection.

So, even as we are overloaded with information and ideas, be prepared, when you find something interesting, to slow down and focus on that.  Deeper consideration unlocks the real value of insights for your business.  Blind, surface level acceptance just sends you on wild goose chases.

So, when something interesting appears in your feed, take the time to read what’s behind it (don’t just cite the headline or the pretty graphic), then look for other angles on the story and context within your business.  That is a path to gaining real value from the information deluge.

(Note:  this also applies to market categories and terms where saying a term, for example “Account Based Marketing”, doesn’t tell you nearly enough of the story.)

Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: go-to-market  

Tags: data  information-overload  insights  metrics  sense-making  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.