“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong,” HL Mencken.

Muzeable Thinking No. 21 posted by Tim Brooks 9th March 2017


A Muzeable rant in the naïve hope of some behavioural change.

I’m bored. Not with Mr Mencken, his work is still mildly engaging.

But, with the smorgasbord of opinions that litter my work, life and the future.

I’m not being holier than thou either. My own need for opinions – endless opinions – is irritating too.

Days are filled with too much of:

  • Clients – usually senior ones – who take ‘gut feel’ to unsustainable levels because they don’t keep up with the data or don’t understand it [e.g. digital/social!]. Their fear of appearing indecisive; seeing reflection as a sign of weakness; their need for short-term solutions – that are ‘clear, simple and wrong’.
  • Me, filling the silence, or people will think I’m stupid/not earning my fee.
  • You, managing upwards and over simplifying to force the problem into a box [usually because your bosses are impatient with short attention spans and need a PPT soundbite].
  • Brand Communication/content… that exists for no other reason than it can be done and we feel compelled to do it… whatever. Digital really drives quantity over quality.
  • Qualitative research that is just the personal worldview of the person who did the groups – regardless of the aims and input from the attendees.
  • Linked In groups. With comments that add no value and just opine. I don’t play anymore.
  • Twitter, Facebook et al… more vast spaces that we are compelled to fill with opinion and limited reflective thought. A POTUS should not be allowed to dilute complex issues into 140 characters. Period.
  • The age of the instant reply. OMG. IMO. The anger. The dumbing down. The drab made briefly shiny. Then forgotten.

Most of these opinions are… simple. Simplistic. Unnecessary. Self-serving. Problem creating. Etc.


Let’s have a bit more:

  • I don’t know. So, I haven’t got an opinion yet. Let’s have a conversation about it and see where it takes us… it’s complicated so don’t expect a great answer immediately.
  • Reflection. Technology breeds hares when we need tortoises. Let’s have more managers with a ‘Don’t just do/say something, but sit there… very quietly’ attitude.
  • Humility. The strong opinion is often a sign of a lack of any – especially in the hands of the most senior person in the room. Shut up, listen more, think a bit and say less.
  • Confidence. Not having an immediate opinion and being comfortable with it… is really cool.
  • Less persuasion. We work for the same organisation, yet the adopted position of most senior managers is that subordinates have 30 mins to sell them the idea. It leads to poor behaviour on both sides; exaggeration and excuses [even a legitimate excuse is still an excuse]. How about more open dialogue, collaborative dialogue and brutal truth?

I will work hard to reduce my own opinion count – starting now. And no shit, I realise this missive is… an opinion. Occasionally people will be disappointed in me, or consider me a bit slow on the uptake/unable to keep up or even stupid. Sod ‘em. The enlightened will be my new best friends.


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