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When Self-Evident Truths Are No Longer True

By Hank Barnes | August 03, 2021 | 0 Comments

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This is not a political post, but as I was thinking about what to write, the opening line from the Declaration of Independence sprung into my mind.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…..” – Thomas Jefferson

Source: https://corcoran.gwu.edu/letter-director-we-hold-these-truths-be-self-evident

In thinking about business situations, there are many truths that seem to be self-evident and that guide the standards of decision making and operations.    For example, for a long time it was viewed that suppliers were the only source of information; that they only way (or best way) to get the press and other third parties to be aware of things you are doing was through public relations; that buying processes followed an orderly sequence, etc.

Now, all three of these examples are known to be false today.  And yet, the way we run functions like marketing, sales, press relations, and more are fundamentally based on these self-evident truths that aren’t true anymore.

I’m sure you can find other examples.    When we base our processes on lapsed truths, we encounter more exceptions, more inefficiencies, and more frustrations.   It’s not that we aren’t adapting to the changes; it’s that we adapt around the edge, while still being stuck to the guiding principles of the past.

Ingrained ideas are hard to change.  Ingrained processes are hard to change.  But there should be a way forward.

  1. Recognize when the exceptions start to exceed the number of times things can be handled with the traditional approach.
  2. Look for signals that “that is how we do it” just doesn’t work.
  3. Channel frustrations into constructive diagnosis of the underlying issues.

With this, you have the ammo to make the case for a bigger change.  Then,

  1. Start with the review of the “self-evident truth” that guided past behavior
  2. Catalogue the things that have changed that call the truth into question
  3. Create a new truth to guide the change design
  4. Develop strategies to deal with the new truth.

Its always been an unfortunately reality (this is as political as I am going to get) that the Declaration’s “self-evident truths”  did not apply equally to all.  That being said truths as guiding lights to point the way and shape decisions are important.

It’s the summer.  Things are supposed to be slower (I say supposed to because this has been a super business work month).  Now might be a good time to analyze the truths that shape your business and see which ones still hold and which don’t.

Then do something about it.

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