In this post I will share something that is the foundation of making good decisions. This is also an entire step in the Salary Step Up Series. I am talking about evaluation of information. Evaluation is a critical part of any process when you want to build a case for what ever you have set your sights on.
I encourage the adaptation of information to support your position but before you take that step you must make sure that you are not deceiving yourself at the same time. Above all, the rule that I apply to evaluation is removing the opinion from the fact. Before you can accurately build an effective plan to accomplish any goal you need to know that you are building your plan on a firm foundation.
The foundation of any plan should be the facts of the matter. The list of facts can include the opinions that you hold and those that others have regarding the mater but they should be viewed as opinions and not as fact. That is to say that it can be a fact that someone believes something that is not supported by facts so it is an opinion not a fact. The facts as I define them are those things that are proven to be beyond doubt. This can be similarly stated as the evidence of an event that is true and verifiable.
When you have made a first pass through the subject take a second and third look to see below the surface. When you do this make sure that you continue to ask good questions for why and how the facts are as they appear. A problem that often misleads us in our evaluation is stopping too soon. When we find what we think is the truth and especially when it matches with our preconceived opinion we are tempted to stop searching and build on the information that we have assumed to be factual. It is in the second and third pass that we separate our interest to prove our initial assumption and see the facts and follow them to the correct understanding of the information. If we find something that does not match with our interests it is better to find that out for ourselves than for others to point out our fouled evaluation of the facts.
The system I use when evaluating is a series of questions that drills deeper and focuses on the revealed information. This is started only after I have systematically observed the situation and without evaluation or judgement gathered as much information as possible in the time I have available. The first question is what obvious trends and data stand out from the rest? Then I focus on that information and ask the basic questions of Who, What, When, Where and Why and How. For some information some of the basic questions are combined to see if time, conditions and the people involved combined to create a result different than the norm. The best basic question is Why. Ask yourself Why the trends are clear and why the data stands out in that particular area. After asking and hopefully gaining insights from that round start again looking at the entirety of the information gathered and determine if other areas warrant further inquiry. Make a list of the important information and what you have questioned along with the discoveries that your questioning has revealed. Repeat this process until you feel that you have gathered as much information and investigated to a reasonable assurance that the facts that you have identified are accurate and create the majority of valuable data of the subject.
If you take this approach and consistently ask “is this information factual or is it tainted by opinion” you will refine the data and eventually end up with the raw facts. That is where you start to build your position.
With the raw facts you can be assured that you are not making a mistake of error based on bad information. You will also build your confidence knowing that you have a firm understanding of the information. Now you have the foundation to build a strong argument for your desires.
I will address this next step further in another blog post but for now know that this is when you start to use the facts to control the process by reintroducing opinion that is in-favor of your desire. The key is to know that people, and that includes you, operate on opinions and emotions far more than facts. With that in mind and a firm grasp of the facts you get to choose the opinion and the correlating emotions that you introduce into your pursuit of your desired goal.