Binks Is Here

Commentary on the World

Too Much Data, Not Enough Enthusiasm

A nugget from the marketer-philosopher, Seth Godin:

Too much data leads to not enough belief.

Business plans with too much detail, books with too much proof, politicians with too much granularity… it seems as though more data is a good thing, because data proves the case.

In my experience, data crowds out faith. And without faith, it’s hard to believe in the data enough to make a leap. Big mergers, big VC investments, big political movements, large congregations… they don’t usually turn out for a spreadsheet.

The problem is this: no spreadsheet, no bibliography and no list of resources is sufficient proof to someone who chooses not to believe. The skeptic will always find a reason, even if it’s one the rest of us don’t think is a good one. Relying too much on proof distracts you from the real mission–which is emotional connection. [Emphasis is mine]

On occasion I’ve found myself trying to get a large organization to do something other than what it’s been doing all along; or trying to get some staffer in a large organization to put a toe outside of their job description. Inevitably, it seems, you hit something - popular excuses include “Privacy law”, “building code”, or “insurance”, that just couldn’t possibly allow my idea to ever work and that ends the conversation.

It’s not that the idea is bad, or that any of these obstacles are insurmountable. The issue is that the person you’re trying to convince just doesn’t care about you or your idea, and has absolutely no incentive to make anything happen. In that case, my response is usually something along the lines of, “Oh, what section of the building code is in error?” or “What exactly is it about this that causes an insurance issue? How about negotiating an additional rider on the insurance you already have?”.

That, of course, is exactly the wrong approach to take. Even if you get past that objection, there’ll just be another one waiting in the wings; or they’ll just stop responding to your inquiries.

The only way to get someone to do something is to make them want to do it. Someone who’s dead set against you will never be convinced by data alone.