Oh Snap!

I am in the midst of one of the most frustrating examples of what can happen when you jump to conclusions. My mom is 87 years old and several years ago she suffered a stroke that left her with speech aphasia which makes it very hard for her to find the words when she tries to talk. This is extremely frustrating for her. I had no idea it could get worse until she went to the hospital. She was hit with a barrage of strangers asking her a lot of health questions that she was unable to answer. One doctor ended up diagnosing her with advanced dementia. She does not have it, but speech aphasia is a symptom for both stroke and dementia. The conclusion she jumped to ended up causing a lot of other problems with all aspects of her recovery. Here is what I tried to take away from the experience; they seemed obvious to me until I encountered the problem solving and decision-making processes of medical doctors entrusted with my Mom’s health care.

GET THE FACTS: If you are a consultant coming in to a company to make an assessment, you had better make sure you are talking to the people who are in the best position to help you understand the facts of the current business state.

RESIST THE URGE TO MAKE SNAP JUDGMENTS: If it looks like the same problem you have seen many times before, don’t flatter yourself; take the time to be sure there is not an equally plausible explanation. If you have been called in, don’t assume the solution will be obvious even if the symptoms look like those of a problem you have seen in the past.

BE THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE: If you think you have an answer to a problem it is worth the time to do what fraud examiners do when confronted with a case. To guard against the risk of developing a theory and then using all of the data to support it they make an objective case against their theory. You should never get too complacent in your own ability to see what is happening. It is better for you to adopt an attitude that says, “What am I overlooking?” than have your client point it out for you.

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Dan Clark

Dan Clark

Principal of Bowline Consulting, process designer/fixer, wireless telecom veteran, addicted pick up soccer player, fly fisher, backpacker, beer brewer, guitar player, choir singer, recovering bag piper

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