Faith

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Faith is the belief in something without the support of proof.

Confirmation bias is the tendency to filter information to retain only what conforms to one's preferences, hypotheses, or viewpoints, and to reject all information that does not.

Absolute truth is something that is inarguably fact.

Businesspeople don't like faith. It's a characteristic of the undisciplined, the naive, and the "ain't going to make it in this business."

Businesspeople love absolute truth. They spend untold billions on research, education, consultants, and talent to create sophisticated algorithms that predict, with a high degree of certainty, that when you pull levers A, B, and C, then X, Y, and Z will happen. They crave predictability, reliability, and stability. Their models are brilliant.

"Businesspeople love absolute truth. They spend untold billions on research, education, consultants, and talent to create sophisticated algorithms that predict, with a high degree of certainty."

They are also flawed.

Models have a finite number of variables...no matter how complicated they are. How, then, in a world of infinite variables, can a model yield absolute truth? While there is no doubt that predictability, reliability, and stability can be achieved, each are imperfect. Absolute truth does not exist.

Worse, those evaluating the algorithms developed for such lofty goals are often hopelessly, though unintentionally, biased. Goal posts are moved. Assumptions are made. Questionable success metrics are rationalized. Failures become silver linings. New ideas that could drive better results are rejected in favor of stability and familiarity.

A credit union leader who craves absolute truth is simply a person of faith, even if she rejects the concept outright. If there is any absolute truth, this is it. Oh, I guess you could also add to that list the fact that without faith big ideas, transformational ones, simply never happen.

Matt

Matt Davis lives in Madison, Wisconsin. He is the Innovation Director of the Filene Research Institute specializing in implementation. Matt presents, advises and completes project work with credit unions based on Filene's i3 ideas and innovative processes. The thoughts posted here are his own, and do not reflect those of his employer.

Posted on April 22, 2013 and filed under Author: Matt Davis.