It would be nice to have all the facts before we make a decision. We would feel more secure – I would, at least — maybe you, too.
I’m an engineer by education. I have a big math and science bias. I’m also a learner and pretty curious. Put all those together and I am hopelessly predisposed to wanting a lot of information to support my actions.
That’s good with some things – but not a good thing in business. We live in a world where there’s really no time for that and my preference to know more information can actually work against me.
Thankfully I’m aware of my tendency and am mindful – always – to work to keep it in check. But it’s a struggle sometimes to fight against our nature. In my case the idea of being certain before I act has been ingrained in me from parents and in school. And at 65 – it’s had a lot of time to fester!
Certainly, at one point the world did move slow enough where there was time to gather information that would help bulletproof my decisions. But those days are long gone – and speed is everything.
If this sounds remotely familiar to you, I wanted to share a quote I ran across two years ago that keeps me focused and helps me avoid getting lost in the deep. I can’t recall where I read it but the words stuck:
“The cost of knowing is too great.”
When I read it, it was like BOOM! That’s IT!
The cost of certainty – the effort it takes to build a bulletproof case – is far too expensive. We humans sometimes like to go deep but it comes at the expense of being fast or nimble.
The cost of knowing is too great! Don’t try to get it all locked down – get just get enough information and then move. “Ready, fire, aim” as the immortal Tom Peters used to say – you can always refine your aim with your next shot.
The cost of knowing is too great! Is it comfortable to do otherwise? Not for me! Is it a bit scary? To me it can be!! But it’s scarier to think about the opportunities that slip by while I’m indulging an obsolete (and counter-productive) behavior.
Business today – all business – small business – big business – all of it – operates like a hospital emergency room. We triage on the fly and re-prioritize constantly. In that environment the cost of knowing is much too great.
They’re just seven words – but they do help keep my geeky side in check because – the cost of knowing is (indeed) too great!