How to convince the inconvincible

So how does one go about convincing the inconvincible (actually a proper word as per Webster)? Contrary to popular belief, there’s no need to resort to heavy artillery. Just an interesting new tool in thinking I just learned from the book Decisive by Chip Heath (great book by the way).

The tool is this question: “What data might convince us of that?”

As in, “What if our least favourite option were actually the best one? What data might convince us of that?”

It’s actually a great way to convince the inconvincible.

Instead of two or more parties with differing agendas going head to head and each sticking to their guns, say in a company making a decision that would benefit one party and/or penalize  the other, both are asked “what has got to be true in order for the other side to be right?”

In this way, both are forced to have tangible “targets” (a KPI or a number of some sort) instead of a vague sense of right. Both will also have no choice but to put themselves In the other person’s shoes in order to think of these targets (“what has to be true on order for them to be right”?)

“If it takes a 12-month revenue losing streak before you are convinced there’s something wrong with the organisational structure (just three months away), then fine, I’m happy to wait till then to get your complete buy in, because I know we’re going to hit that streak and I don’t want this argument to drag any longer than it needs to.”

Whatever anyone feels about the decision, if that 12-month losing streak is hit, a decision will be made.

There’s just no more arguing if both parties agree on what has to be right (the KPIs; the right “targets”) because the data is the data, and if it overwhelmingly shows that one party is right (as agreed beforehand), then objectively that party is right.

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My name is Donn, and you’ll find me working at the intersection of business and information technology, constantly looking for ways to apply IT to business and life to make things better. I’m a big fan of data analysis and its subsequent communication. It always gives me a thrill extracting meaning out of data through analysis, and figuring out the best way to present the findings for maximum impact!

Let me know what you think