Nigeria's leading finance and market intelligence news report.

“I don’t know”


Welcome to another Friday, dare I say, like no other. Since last week so much has gone on all over the world. This may be stating the obvious but many times all we comment on is that time is flying. I just wanted us to see that time is not just flying without any results. Things are happening. Are things happening in your life? Do an evaluation.

I was reading a book this week. They said a few things that I felt impacted my theme this week. They said correlation does not always equal causality. So for example according to Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner because two things travel together does not mean one causes another. For example, the statement that married people are happier than single people. This may make you think marriage causes happiness. However, not necessarily, apparently there is data to show that happy people are more likely to get married in the first place.

Knowing what to measure and how to measure it makes many things less complicated. Unfortunately, it is easy to let our biases, political, intellectual or otherwise colour our view of the world. Apparently, there is growing evidence to show that even the smartest people tend to seek out evidence that confirms what they are already thinking, rather than getting new information that would give them a more robust view of reality.

In order to run your human resources so that you get the very best results out of them and indeed running all your factors of production to give you the very best, you must be ready to abandon the herd mentality and think completely differently. (I don’t like the term ‘out of box thinking’ because that still means you are in a box even if you are thinking out of it). Herd mentality means you are quick to embrace the status quo, slow to change your mind.

Here is a story for you. A little boy named Dapo goes to the mall with his father and sister. They drive in a green car. At the mall, they play games, eat ice cream, take part in a quiz and have a meat pie for lunch.

Please answer the following questions

What colour was the car?

Did they have amala and gbegiri for lunch?

Did they listen to music in the car?

Did they drink Fanta with lunch?

When asked many people gave answers to all the questions. The truth is that besides the first two, there is not enough information that to answer the third and fourth questions correctly. Yet people will not admit this. They will go ahead and form an answer when all they need to say is ‘I don’t know’.

There are different levels of knowledge. There are the known facts, things that can be scientifically proven, H2O is water, if you say HO2 is water, you will eventually be proven wrong. However, beliefs are things we hold true but may not be easily verified. With beliefs, there is a lot of room for disagreement.

The key to learning is feedback. It is impossible to learn anything without it. A great example is being the first person to bake bread. If you are never allowed to actually bake it, eat it and see how the recipe turns out, how will you know whether or not it works? Even with good feedback, it can take a while to learn.

To be first at something globally or just in your organisation, you must be ready to think. Thinking is a dying art and many people are too willing to delegate their thinking. The first point in thinking is admitting that you don’t know a thing.

Many people are either as I said above running with the herd or they are just too busy to think and too busy to re-think the way they think. When was the last time you sat for at least an hour of unadulterated thinking?

“Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week” George Bernard Shaw. Just to be clear, thinking here is not the same as worrying.

Back to your Visioning and the ‘why’ of what you do. In many scenarios when you pit a private benefit against the greater good, the private benefit wins especially when we are playing it safe. Today, I put it to you that self- interest can be frustrating if your ambitions are larger than simply securing some small private victory.

There is nothing wrong if all you want is a small private victory. However, don’t plan for a small private victory and be disappointed when that is all you get. If you, however, want to do something big you have to be bold and courageous.

There is noright way to think about solving a given problem. (This is again assuming that your organisationhas been set up to solve a problem.) There is no smart way or foolish way. There is no black or white way. The modern world demands that we think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally, that we think from a different angle, with a different set of muscles, with a different set of expectations, that w think with neither fear nor favour with neither blind optimism nor sour scepticism.

We said a vision requires foresight, insight and hindsight. I guess a good place to start is predicting the future. Please take care in predicting. Someone once said by 2005, the internet’s growth will slow down because a law called Metcalf’s law. Well, we can see what Facebook, Google to mention a couple are doing and how they are growing in leaps and bounds. Not a good prediction and yet it was made by a supposed guru at the time.

Like I said above, for insight, we need to know the correct questions to ask that will lead us to the correct answers. So apparently, the educational system in the world is not as good as it was. This seems clear that the teachers must not be as good and dedicated as there were in the good old days. However, the real reason is that the family system and values are being so eroded. Parents have become too busy to pay enough attention to their children.

Finally, hindsite can only be best achieved if there is a good feedback system in place and if we actually feed back the results into future deliberations.

Next week we will move on from visioning but I hope you have crafted or re-visited your vision and the ‘why’ of your organisation’s existence.


Olamide Balogun

Balogun is the founder of Box & Cedar Ltd a boutique Recruitment and  HR Consulting firm



Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.