Thursday, May 10, 2007

The exasperating problem with advice

the right advice when executed well

can turn around a company
can prosper you
can diagnose a disease correctly
can prevent mishaps
can save lives
can better communities and organizations and even nations

but how to tell if it's the right advice except from hindsight?

the right advice doesnt always wear a suit, nor dresses up in the right educational degrees and qualifications.
the bearer may be clumsy, tattered, unintelligent, stupid to all.
the bearer may even be a failure.
may be experienced, or not at all.
on the other hand, being clumsy, unintelligent, tattered and uneducated, may be just that - and wrong too!

carefully analysed advice proffered up by a brilliant mind may be just as stupid if it lacks a key perspective or insight.
the right advice is crowned 'good advice', only in hindsight.
Before the final bell, the rest are mere hopefuls and pretenders.

talk is cheap, advice easy to offer.
an advisor without "skin in the game" (personal investment at risk), is just opinionating to puff up his ego; blowing smoke circles from his cigar into the face of a young inexperienced sap.

with so many newspapers, magazines, cheaper publishing, the internet and blogs (including this!), everyone is a pundit. Pretenders all?

advice that is general, "get lots of users for your beta product", or truisms like, "hire the brightest" or even "implement [current management or technical fad here]" will always be easy to dish out. But specific tailored advice on how to "get lots of users" takes effort, wisdom and thinking - and may in the end - be wrong.

right advice = powerful advice.

In the meantime, we are simply confused with this over-abundance.

Can you hedge your bets with advice - take some of this and some of the other? That may dilute your executing and lead to failure.

My current explanation: our minds try to make sense of the past and try to function in the present to maximise selfish survival and prosperity by generating rules and patterns. These rules are based upon our experiences, education, upbringing, beliefs etc. Advice is simply rules extrapolating to the future. The future is unpredictable (why?). So advice may not always be right.

(Why is the future unpredictable? Is there any link with Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle - or is it simply the large number of interacting variables?).

what are your thoughts about how to recognize the right advice?

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