One of the most overlooked skills in the business world is the ability to apply formal logic to arguments made in boardrooms and boardrooms. And that’s a shame because formal logic can prevent companies from following strategies and tactics that are disconnected from reality.
Schools and colleges no longer teach formal logic, as evidenced by the large number of people espousing conspiracy theories (all of which fall apart when subjected to formal logic.) So unless you do. Don’t want your organization to end up as confused and confrontational as the lunatic talking at school board meetings, you will need employees who can think logically.
Fortunately, there is an easy and fun way to learn formal logic: An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments: Learn the Lost Art of Making Sense by Ali Almossawi. This book should be required reading for all employees, because once understood, the concepts it contains will increase the “organizational intelligence” of your business.
Even one logical mistake can bring a huge business to its knees, as I have learned from personal experience. When I worked at minicomputer maker DEC in the early 1990s, company executives were unable to accept the easily demonstrable truth that PC sales were overwhelming traditional computer sales. This was a classic example of the logical error known as the “argument from consequences”. As Almossawi explains:
“The fact that a proposition leads to an unfavorable result does not mean that it is false. can appeal to the public’s hopes, which sometimes take the form of wishful thinking. In the event of bad consequences, the argument can rather play on the fears of the public.
In this case, if the leaders of DEC had accepted the truth about PCs versus minicomputers, it would mean that the company’s strategy was doomed, hence the conclusion, therefore it must be wrong. . When I showed a slide comparing the revenues of the two product categories, I remember a vice president saying bluntly “that can’t be true”. He then continues the meeting as if PCs are just a fad. This pervasive blind spot ultimately drove the company into bankruptcy.
A logical error that constantly appears in the business world – to the detriment of good business decisions – is the “Ad Hominem” attack which Almossawi describes as
“an argument [that] attacks a person rather than the argument they are making, with the intention of deflecting the discussion and discrediting the argument. “
I can even begin to estimate how many times I’ve heard good poop ideas because they came from someone with a different business discipline. I have experienced this in this column, which is often discredited in the comments because I am only a “salesman”.
(Note: I suspect that the most common form of “Ad Hominem” is actually “Ad Feminem” where men reject ideas just because they come from a woman. I have seen this happen dozens of people. of times.)
Another logical mistake that is wreaking havoc in the business world is the “call to action” which Almossawi describes as the idea that a proposition must be true if a large number of people believe it to be true. Two huge examples of this are the open plan office and the driverless car (always promised but never actually arrived).
An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments: Learn the Lost Art of Making Senseidentifies 20 logical errors that appear everywhere. Because it’s so short and entertaining, it’s more than a must read, it’s a “read or go” book.