By Jeff Bowman
The modern business professional is consultative in nature – cares about the issues that clients face daily; willing to look at alternative “sustainable” business solutions and most importantly well informed about the marketplace, competitors and the economic situation of the day.
This would be the case if we lived in a perfect world. We get up, and scan and store the information we need for the day from our favorite medium – newspaper, radio, TV or the Internet. Our engines rev and our internal GPS directs us to the shortest route – unfortunately a toll route – “The Misinformation Highway”.
Technology allows us the luxury of gathering information at lightning speed from any number of sources and having it sent directly to our mobile phones. News can be setup as a home page or streamed to your phone, desktop or laptop as it happens. We can search the internet (even at work) for breaking news, economic data, streaming video, current events and even a recipe for dinner tonight. We can use the internet to research our competitors or potential clients. It has the ability to provide us with so much reliable data on which to program our lives and base our future actions.
The World Wide Web has become the primary source of information, and some would say misinformation, for a large percentage of people in North America today. I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but like Professional Wrestling, it isn’t all real. Corporate websites are usually out of date and contain misinformation. News media often get duped and run inaccurate stories based on “first person” or “reliable sources”. Budgets from governments are leaked for effect, censorship exists in some parts of the world, sports teams start rumours of trades or injuries and why?
Instant gratification. It has to do with the immediate and widespread release of information that has the ability to sway people’s actions in one way or another.
As business people we are no different. We have all changed our business plans based on news about the economy, we have all secretly hoped for bad news to appear about our competitors so we can gain an advantage, we all add a little “extra” into our websites to make our corporate face appear brighter. An old friend of mine used the line “fake it till you make it” to describe his job hunting activities, and it is really no different than what we see every day.
We have the ability, thanks to technology, of filling our heads with data from the misinformation highway. It really isn’t any different than the lessons our ancestors taught us. Each person that heard news told it a little different to the next person. Now we can do that at lightning speed across the world.
My advice is to take all information we receive with a grain of salt. Give out information with a high degree of integrity, knowing that someone halfway around the world may see it or hear it. There is a great deal to be said about honesty, best practices and corporate citizenship in business today. Like Mark Twain said, “a goldmine is a hole in the ground with a liar on top” (By the way, Mark Twain never did say that but it is commonly credited to him, just a little inaccuracy.)