While reviewing the company scorecard during a Level 10 Meeting, a member of the leadership team asked that two items be dropped to the Issues List. Both were related to revenue and had been off track for more than one week. When the issue came up during the resulting “IDS” portion of the meeting, several people tried to downplay the issue pointing to bad weather, increased competition, market pressure – even calling the person who raised the issue a pessimist and naysayer. “Well”, said the naysayer, “facts are facts, and we should understand what’s really going on here.”
I couldn’t help but think of a great quote by John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things.” Five years prior to the American Revolution, Adams agreed to represent several British soldiers who were on trial for killing five civilians during an uprising in Boston. Sympathies lay with the dead civilians making it an extremely unpopular case and many other lawyers had refused to take it. Adams justified defending the soldiers on the grounds that the facts of the case were more important to him than public sentiment. Adams won the case by presenting facts that revealed that the assembled mob was much to blame for the unfortunate event and that the soldiers were merely responding as anyone would when faced with a similar life-threatening situation.
Back to the meeting … after spending several minutes digging into the details and identifying the cause, the resulting discussion surfaced several tangible action steps to solve the problem. At the conclusion of the meeting, several members of the team thanked the naysayer for forcing the issue. Facts are stubborn things, but without them to focus us, we engage in fruitless conversations and often make decisions based on sentiment, emotion and ego.