Better to Be Generally Right…or Explicitly Wrong?

Being new to SDI Consulting last year and the workforce has been a big transition from college.  One interesting challenge has been learning all the phrases and business terminology that get used around the office.  A few months ago I had no idea what a Value Chain Map or a Matrix Organization was, or that a slide deck was actually another name for a PowerPoint presentation.  In addition to the new consulting terms I’ve picked up, I learned that when someone jokingly said, nothing like drinking straight from the fire hose, that I was about to have a lot of work to do…

But one thing that gets said around the office that I had a hard time understanding is:
it’s better to be explicitly wrong than generally right.

I’m new and make mistakes that any new employee would make, but I was excited when I got things generally right the first time.  Why would it be better to do something explicitly wrong?  The rule can’t be applied to everything, but I can’t tell you the amount of extra work and headaches I would have saved myself if I had just taken their advice to risk being wrong rather than trying to be generally right.

For me, in some cases I’ve realized that my project wasn’t really going to fit in the template that I was working with initially. And yet, I kept working with it trying everything to make it fit. I had an idea for how it could be done differently, but I waited for my boss reviewing the work to tell me that. If a project doesn’t fit in the template, stop trying to make it.

I’ve tried to fill in missing information with fluff information, just until the missing information is provided.  Unfortunately, the collaborators reviewing the document didn’t notice that there was anything missing because my filler paragraphs weren’t necessarily wrong, which meant they weren’t aware that I was still in need of the real information until it was almost too late.

Recently I even tried to create an entire communication plan without any dates in them… because I didn’t know what the dates were supposed to be, and I didn’t want to make the wrong choices.

Just trying not to do anything wrong in this new era of business will only take you so far. Making choices where there is a high probability of being wrong seems risky, but risk taking can actually drive better results faster.  I am learning to bring up issues and challenge initial plans sooner.  I am highlighting the missing content that I need and typing in estimated dates in large red font… and I am not drinking straight from the fire hose quite as often.

Share this Post