Saturday, February 9, 2019

Remember that not every question has a clear answer

A couple days ago at LinkedIn Joel Schwartzberg, who was hyping his Get to the Point! book, claimed: 

“ ‘It depends’ is not an acceptable final answer from leaders or experts. Get the information you need – or pose it yourself – to make a strong and clear recommendation. Leaders take positions. Waffles are for breakfast.”

Wrong! Just because someone can ask a question doesn’t mean there is a clear, final answer right now. In the real world we often live in the meantime. When there is not enough evidence, then the answer simply is we just don’t know. Maybe we will know later, and maybe we won’t.

Look at fact sheets from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) for both an Infectious Disease Outbreak and a Hurricane Response. They say that to be credible:

“Acknowledge when you do not have enough information to answer a question and then work with (the) appropriate experts to get an answer.”

Joel replied:

"Fair enough, Richard. I was thinking more about when leaders choose to waffle rather than take a courageous strong point of view, but that's not clear from the post. I will rewrite or remove it for the false implication. Thank you."

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