Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Conflicting Information

Courtesy of Slashdot we have this:

The study used energy company records from Indiana before and after that state mandated DST for all of its counties, and calculated that the switch cost Indiana citizens $8.6M per year. 'I've never had a paper with such a clear and unambiguous finding as this,' the professor said.

The recent changes to DST cost business an untold amount of grief, with old unsupported operating systems needing to be upgraded or patched by third parties just to deal with it, and even new software not functioning correctly until the patches are downloaded. So what lesson does a business learn from this?

One lesson is certainly that clear analysis is more important than acting on conventional wisdom. But more importantly, sometimes there are no clear answers. This is where leadership in business is so important. The leadership to decide when the evidence isn't all in and isn't attainable, and the leadership to stand behind that decision and make it work – but more importantly the leadership to know when something isn't working, and changing course where needed.

Government is not a business, and can't be expected to learn these lessons. But a business can, and should. Have you ever been on a project that was started under a premise that turned out to be false, and when that became known, it was more important to finish the project than to stop throwing good money after bad and admit that things were not as they seemed?

In a culture of blame, making such a decision is impossible. In a culture of accountability, where leaders are responsible to make the right decisions for the business based on the best facts they can get, a business can do so much better.

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