The evils of Perception management in business

Perception management is one of the biggest evils in business!

All too often people will make judgement calls based on ‘a’ perception often with little substance of knowing the actual subject. See the video above, its a great example of how people perceive the big, unshaven chaps with tattoos.

I have worked in many organisations were a ‘trusted’ party is someone who isn’t best placed to advise the business but they have influenced key decision makers into believing that whatever advise they give it is gospel, even if the individual has very little experience or expertise within the context of the discussion.

How often have you worked for a company which has brought in a 3rd party consultancy to either validate or tell you what you already know? And when you challenge this culture often the reply from those who drove the engagement with the 3rd party replies with something along the lines of ‘but if they mess up we’ll be able to hold them accountable’. How often when something has gone wrong with either the advice have the company held the 3rd party accountable? More than likely…. NEVER.

Its not exclusively applicable to 3rd parties either, how often have you found a ‘trusted’ company person invited to every possible meeting who has little or no expertise on the topic which requires either a direction or decision to be made.

What can we do to change this bad practice of utilising perception management as an ineffective approach? who can we trust? Firstly trust the advise of those who deliver, not just documents, plans or spreadsheets but those who really deliver business value based on decisions they have influenced, then make sure that they have suitable experience and expertise in the topic area you are discussing. If your facilitating the meeting make sure that everyone is fairly heard, spread the direction of the conversation amongst all the people in attendance. Its easy to give too much focus to the most vocal individuals.

You wouldn’t trust a nose surgeon to give best advise on carrying out brain surgery. Sure a nose surgeon and the brain surgeon share common understandings about ‘surgery’, but they wouldn’t have enough expertise to do the other ones work. If the brain surgeon tried to carryout a nose operation, they’d end up looking like sloth out of the Goonies, worse still if the nose surgeon carried out brain surgery there’s a good chance you’d never wake up again. Would you trust or pressure the nose surgeon into performing brain surgery? Its highly likely the answer would be ‘no’. So why do we ask and expect most of IT to be able to give an expert, authoritative opinion on everything in IT.

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