Never assume or presume!!

Last week I talked about the problem of not listening if you are an entrepreneur, in a world where listening and debating seems to have become very unfashionable.

This week, as I saw the debate in Parliament on the Grenfell disaster I saw another failing of people in that they rush to conclusions. This attitude is one we will see exploited continuously over the next five weeks as the election gets into full swing.

If I deal with Grenfell first, I have nothing but sympathy for the victims and their families for a disaster that has already been acknowledged as avoidable. I also have tremendous admiration for the fire officers who fought that blaze.

However, it took two years and hundreds of pieces of evidence for the enquiry to reach the conclusions in the report of the first stage. Not only did the politicians not take time to read it, but also they were immediately jumping to their own blame conclusions based on where they would stand politically in the upcoming election.

Not only did this show a superficiality in their so called professional opinions, whichever side of the fence they were on, but it also showed disrespect to the bereaved and survivors of Grenfell who gave that painful testimony to the enquiry.

But then, if an election is coming then we can expect plenty more of this sound bite rhetoric. Suddenly getting a deal that means cystic fibrosis drugs can be bought at an affordable price from America for sufferers of the condition, rather than other more expensive sources, is deemed selling the NHS to America!

One would think that, as we live in an Internet world we would use it to fact check rather than play with Facebook all day. Sadly, we live in a society where facts should not be allowed to get in the way of bigotry and our desire for sound bite communication.

In today’s world there must always be someone to blame and it had better not be our side of the divide. If you are the opposition then it is the government, and if you are the government it is the previous administration.

The effect of this attitude is that opinions are formed on assumptions rather than real facts. A brief read of Facebook or Twitter will demonstrate the bigoted ignorance of so many from all sides. And this verbal battle of the deaf will determine what sort of government the UK gets.

But there is also a clear lesson here for entrepreneurs. They too can so easily rush to judgement with their businesses and assume things rather than getting the facts. Often assumptions and presumptions fit their narrative in a way that would stop them needing to change.

But where this happens, businesses invariably run into trouble. I well remember a business that really thought that they had the answer to instant wealth and luxury. They didn’t waste time on facts or listening to obvious advice that would have saved them from making mistakes.

As a result, instead of millionaire status on day one of launch, the business set off on a rapid descent into failure and bankruptcy.

We know that one of the hallmarks of an entrepreneurial business is that it often has to make decisions with incomplete information. That does not mean that the entrepreneur should not try and get as much information as possible.

I always prefer to work with a business that is based on factual information, even if incomplete, rather than gut feel. Once in a while gut feel may get lucky, but more often than not it is a sign of indigestion!

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