We recently talked about how research and fact-finding are important elements to success in the business world. The Internet has made research and fact-finding more accessible and streamlined, but the tremendous volume of information also makes it difficult to sort out the reliable research from the unreliable.
In our previous blog post, we asked you to examine generalizations. They can be the source of prejudices and superstitions. We also asked you to carefully consider who is a real authority. Celebrities who endorse products don’t have any relevant credentials to what it is they’re endorsing. The same thing can happen in the business world.
It’s also important to look out for extremes — false dilemmas have an emotional appeal but typically don’t yield good results.
A couple of additional tips:
Look for hard figures. Verifiable, proven data speaks for itself. Unfortunately, most people do not look beyond the presence of statistics. What you need to do is ask yourself how a business came up with their numbers, or to check the numbers against their primary source — that is, the original, documented research. When it comes to numbers, the process — how the information was arrived at — is just as important as the information itself. This is why many businesses use credible research firms.
Rely on database sources. Unlike a cursory Google search, which will bring up any result that contains your search query, databases offered by the likes of Dun & Bradstreet, Standard & Poor’s or Gartner Group will provide the previously mentioned first party information for review, backed by background information and research techniques/methodology.
Being misinformed can damage your image and authority. Although anyone can claim himself or herself as an industry expert, you should look at their background, their positions on past issues and their website to help determine their real expertise. You also need to be aware of the common mistakes most people make when presenting researching — doing so will help you avoid making them yourself.
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