3 Reasons Why Business Thinking Is So Consistently Shoddy

When I’m finishing up a book, I send out sections to be fact-checked by experts and those who have first-person knowledge of events. I’m always amazed at how much I get wrong. In some cases, I make truly egregious errors about facts I should have known (or did know, but failed to take into account). It can be an incredibly humbling process.
That’s why it’s so important to not to believe everything you think, there are simply too many ways to get things wrong. As Richard Feynman put it, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.” I would also add a second principle that just because you’ve managed to fool others, doesn’t mean you’ve gotten it right.
Unfortunately, so many of the popular management ideas today come from people who never actually operated a business, such as business school professors and consultants. These are often people who’ve never failed. They’ve been told that they’re smart all their lives and expect others to be impressed by their ideas, not to examine them thoroughly.
The problem with so much business thinking today is that there is an appalling lack of rigor. That’s the only way that such obviously flawed ideas are able to gain traction. It’s hard to imagine any other field with such a complete lack of quality control.
That’s why I send out fact checks, because I know how likely I am to think foolish and inaccurate things. I’ve also noticed that I tend to be most wrong when I think I’ve come up with something brilliant. Much as Tolstoy wrote about families, there are infinitely more ways to get things wrong than to get things right.