Few would deny that Donald Trump’s thinking has been all over the place in terms of the virus. He consults with scientists and relies on scientific advice, and then tells the Great American Public that the metrics he will use to determine when and how to relax the lockdown are ‘in here’ (pointing to his head). He says he understands the need for lockdown but encourages insurrection by those who want to ignore social distancing and ‘liberate’ America. Confused, or what?
Yet he has my sympathy. He is the embodiment of Data Breakdown. In times of hyper-uncertainty historical data is often invalid as an indicator of future outcomes, and alternative data on the same issues (what Kellyanne Conway called Alternative Facts) become more prolific and more confusing. So increasingly decisions are made on the basis of opinion. And the one thing we can say about the US President is that he is confident in his own opinions.
Negotiations are very data-driven. When data reliability breaks down and opinionated outcomes become more common negotiators need to ask ‘what are the determinants of opinion?’ Books have been written, and I have only a few hundred words, so selectively here are five ideas:
You may wonder if all this is just theoretical whimsy. It is not. Over the next few years, the availability of accurate and informative data will be limited by the continuing uncertainty which will define the new ‘normal’. Opinions in deal-making will be increasingly important, and understanding how we, and our counterparties, form our opinions will be key to outcomes.
At least, that’s my opinion.
About the author:
My background is sales and marketing. I read Law at University and worked for 2 major packaging companies for 13 years in sales and sales management. I joined John McMillan and Scotwork in 1984. For the next 25 years together with our colleagues we delivered training and consulting, built the global business and developed the Scotwork product portfolio.