Why project managers need to consider the source of their information

Where you get your project information or business intelligence from has an impact on its weighting and your decisions. Make sure both the source and the data is factual and reliable. Always consider the source.

From personal experience, I will listen to a podcast or an interview and immediately take that information as gospel. Joe Rogan is a classic personal example. He will talk about nutrition, diet, or jiu-jitsu and I will start to impart my knowledge in general conversation. When asked where I heard that information, The Joe Rogan Experience is not a valid source. The same applies in project management, you may receive conflicting information from different sources about the progress of a project. It is important as a project manager to be able to carefully interpret the information you receive and utilize it for the better of the project. Always consider the source of your information.

Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum, gives this common rookie error an examination. You hear information through a general conversation, and until the next conversation you have, you possess this new knowledge that you are dead set on being correct.

You pass someone in the hallway, and they let you know the office building is getting a new break room. The next person you see lets you know the parking lot is getting refinished. All of a sudden you have visions of a new office space because everyone you have spoken to is generating this information.

When you speak with the building manager, he or she refutes everything you have heard and crushes your dream. This exposure to contradictory viewpoints allows you to decipher information better.

The bias of information is another process that needs to take place. Why is someone telling you this? Is it for your the sake of your own good or theirs? The source of information becomes relevant to a more experienced project manager. The owner of the project may remain infinitely optimistic while the labor force delivers a different message. Who do you believe? This is why it is important to consider the source of your information.

Buterin explains his two-part approach for reasoning counterfactually. “If someone tells you that X is true, ask yourself:

  1. What would they say if X really is true?
  2. If ‘they will say roughly what they just said now,’ then their words provided you with exactly zero information.”

Facts are facts. You can look them up. They are the commodities of answers. No worth to them.

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