A Python, A Tree Trunk, And MVT’s (what the heck is that?)

In many companies a lot of time and energy ends up being consumed by needless debates caused by “multi-varied truths” (MVT).

What’s an MVT?

An MVT is a conclusion, or position, based on a set of data or information that, when taken from a myopic perspective, is true.  Yet when that same conclusion or position is subjected to a broader data viewpoint it becomes less certain and more subject to being challenged by others.

There are many versions of this situation but a common example is when members of the management or executive team discuss where the best business opportunities are to grow the business.

It Goes Like This…

The marketing team believes that the best growth path lies in attracting new prospects into the sales funnel with content, advertising, and a well-designed series of campaigns.  The sales team usually agrees that more, and better quality leads are a key piece.  Along with that they often seek out flexibility in pricing and terms to allow them to close more deals.

The operational team advocates adding more resources  to help with support functions to drive customer satisfaction and generate zealots and strong referrals.  The product and development team suggests dedicating resources to drive more innovation will allow a strong growth path fuelled by new revenue streams and market segments.

There’s Good News and Bad News

The good news is that no one is wrong.  The bad news is that no one is right, either.

It is a lot like the parable of the blind men and the elephant.

Pythons and Tree Trunks

I’m going to paraphrase it, but it essentially tells the story of blind men encountering an elephant for the first time.  One of the men feels the elephant’s trunk and declares that an elephant is like a snake.  Another of the men feels the elephant’s leg and declares that an elephant is like a tree trunk.

MVT’s create the crazy situation where more than one person can be correct, and wrong at the same time.

It depends on what information they are considering and how that information can be related to other things.

Getting Rid of MVT’s

Companies today are full of MVT’s that create situations like the scenario above.  The problem is that MVT’s prevent accurate, quick, and fully-supported decisions.  And that leads to decision paralysis, endless analysis with no clear outcome, or decisions that don’t generate the result that was intended.

Removing MVT’s in your company can be accomplished by doing four things:

  1. Accurate data and information;
  2. Data and information that have been cleansed to ensure consistency and comparability;
  3. Proper definitions of key business elements (such as “what is a customer”) that have a proper consideration of the assumptions and limitations inherent in those definitions; and
  4. Clear scoping of what decisions / actions are intended to result from the use of the data, information, and analysis.

Failure to consider these four critical things makes you and your team live a modern version of the elephant parable.  And renders you blind to the bigger view and leaves you with a narrow perspective.