Beware. Hyperbole Ahead.

I am a big fan of business literature and always have been. And unlike gardening or knitting there is an overabundance of it out there. Too much I would say. You name the media and someone has found a way to deliver through that medium. Too many times the latter is the message too. Because Fortune said so!

This of course leads to the problem of being able to filter the signal from the noise. The really good from the pretenders. The Druckers from the Tom Peters’ and Jim Collins’ of the world.

Here is a tip. Within the first two paragraphs or chapters if the authors inserts “….from talking to/interviewing/ analyzing hundreds/thousands/millions of….” immediately put your brain seat into an upright position and tuck your logic cells between your mental legs. HBR articles treat this like the ketchup to their fries that is the main article.

The author in question starts with data-quantity intimidation mode. I suspect it’s like those font 2 CYA caveats put more to protect the writer than inform the audience. Here the author wants to ensure that when (it’s not an IF usually) you encounter flimsy claims, dubious conclusions or naïve “lessons” from his/her scholarly work you will suppress that tingling BS detector wailing at full blast in your head.

The thinking goes along the line of “Don’t argue with this. This is coming from a lotsa a lotsa a lotsa people. You are 1 opinion. I win. Wheee. Now go back to dutifully accepting my dubious conclusions”

In a alternate universe there sure must be books that go “After interviewing and talking to BILLIONS of flies we can conclude Shit is Good. Go eat it.” I bet FastCompany,TOI and ET will run that even in THIS universe if it gets them eyeballs.

Or “After talking to all the Fortune 500 CEOs we can conclude a few lessons. #1 You need to breathe oxygen! #2 You need to have a shower daily and wear clothes!”

Look Mr.Author if your conclusions have escaped the usual errors and biases your mammal brain is prone to (Brilliantly captured by Phil Rosenzweig’s masterpiece ‘The Halo Effect’)  then your conclusions can stand on their own. You don’t need to Alpha Dog your readers. Ok. Put it all in the back. Your entire research methodology. Just don’t cop out and use that as the main prop in the start.

Readers : Immediately upgrade your skepticism level to Orange when you see a writer insert the above into his work at the start.

The right conclusions in the management sphere from “lotsa interviews/research” is usually just another good warning about how insidious and well entrenched fallacies and biases are in our species.

Proceed with caution.


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