Things you can’t prove

July 19th, 2011 by Douglas McEncroe · No Comments · Liderazgo

A while ago a friend of mine trying to immigrate to her husband’s country had to go through the process proving that her marriage was real, that they indeed had a loving a caring relationship. In other words proving that she and her husband loved each other.

So how do you do that? You can get friends to say that you love each other and you can do all sorts of incredible tricks with photography that puts you with anyone, in any place and in the most romantic poses. But how do you actually prove that you love someone?

This in fact reminds me of a great movie with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey, “Contact”, in which she played a scientist who had entered science having been inspired by her father with whom she had an exceptionally close relationship and who had died when she was very young. McConaughey played a religious minister. The love affair was problematic because she couldn’t understand his faith as there was no empirical proof to confirm the existence of God. In a great scene there was the following exchange:

Jodie Foster: I just can’t believe anything that you can’t prove exists.

McConaughey: Did you love your father?

Foster: Of course I did!

McConaughey: Prove it!

Leap of Faith

I come up against the same type of thinking in my work when it comes to defending the need to invest in the development of the people who lead the company. The bean counters always want you to give hard data that proves that a better quality of leadership has a positive impact on the bottom line. Well, you know what? I can’t. Some consultancy companies invest time and money in creating models that prove the ROI (Return on Investment) for training. But with so many variables that could have a positive impact on improved business results how could you actually prove that it was the training? In reality, you can’t and it is better to accept it.

On the other hand, how many of the greatest business decisions that led to a quantum leap in the bottom line could have taken place if the people who took them had to provide empirical evidence that they were going to work? Not many, I would say.

Sometimes, many times, you just need to take a leap of faith, based on good sense, but a leap of faith all the same. And that’s good business!


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