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What You Know Can Hurt You

Social media has made everyone think they're always right

All kinds of people post opinions on social media: Men and women, old and young, athletes and actors, liberals and conservatives, management and staff. Despite the incredible diversity such an arrangement spawns, they all have something in common: they’re right in their own eyes. It’s like how people believe nobody else on the road knows how to drive as well as they do -- especially in the rain. Each of us has, shall we say, unreasonable confidence in our own opinions.

It’s true in business, as well. How many corporate leaders have you heard remark, “Boy, is my strategy stupid!” or “The way my competitors outsmart me is impressive!” Business, like social media and the interstate, is full of people soaked in confirmation bias: the tendency to interpret events in conformity with our own brilliant view of the world. How many times have you patted your own company’s strategy on the back while scoffing at your competitor’s? I know I have.  

But when you consider that over the course of an average year nearly one in eight companies sees its revenue decline, and that over the course of an average decade more than half of all companies stall, something doesn’t add up. No CEO has ever called a staff meeting and said, “We’re planning to take it in the shorts this year.” Yet company after company does.

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