Change with facts


People usually have more respect for facts than opinions.

It never fails to astonish me what facts can do. The typical state in a business, especially a management team, is a constant and sometimes heated debate about everything. It often happens that one faction holds a certain belief and another faction disagrees, or that a group of people all hold differing views that can’t be reconciled. You opinion matters, of course, but try adding facts to it.

Going back to the facts of the situation is always a good strategy, provided that everyone involved believes in the facts. You can nevertheless, find yourself in a situation, like President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the facts are all agreed upon – but not how to respond to them.

For making change happen, I use facts in two ways. The first one is to change my own opinions. The second one is to change others’ opinions.

I can have strong views and ideas, based on my gut feeling. If I suspect that something is not right, I want to get the facts. If the fact actually points in another direction than my initial thoughts, then I’m more than willing to change my mind. It’s better to do the right thing than to be right.

To change others’ opinion, first you must be sure yourself and present factual evidence to support your opinion. I have seen many projects, deals, investments, expansion plans and ideas take a 180- degree turn when new facts were presented. And the funny thing is that it is often quite frictionless. Given that the facts are trusted, people are open to change. It is so much harder for people to admit that the opinion of another person is right than it is to admit that the facts are right. Facts are not personal, they are objective and neutral. This is why it is easier to change with facts than opinions.