What Business People Get Wrong About the Scientific Method

Are you stuck? Work feel like a treadmill? Feel like you never get anywhere? Massive misrepresentation of the scientific process could be to blame. 

Business people talk a lot about getting all the facts. Getting all the facts sounds sciencey. People who forgot fifth-grade science class forget how the scientific method begins. 

The scientific methods begins with observation. Next comes a question: why? Then comes an explanation for what you observed.

You see an apple fall from a tree. You ask "why do apples fall down instead of up?" You invent an answer. A straw man. Then you investigate. 

If you began by gathering all the facts you'd never get past fact gathering. Facts are infinite. You'll never gather all the facts. Never in trillion years. Without an observation, a question, and a hypothosis, you don't know which facts to gather. You don't know where to start. 

A lot of work feels that way. How often do you say to yourself "I don't even know where to start?"

Business people who want all the facts are afraid. They're afraid of making a decision. They're afraid staking a position. They hope the facts make their decision for them. But the facts never do. Only people can make decisions. 

If you're on that treadmill, stop and get off. Observe. What's happening? Why? Why is it happening? 

Your brain will find answers to any "why" question. Try it. Write down what comes back. Write down all the answers. Shoot for 10 possible answers. Then test them. Try to disprove every one of them. 

When you find one (or two) that can't be disproved, you might be on to something. Test it again. 

If this sounds like trial and error, it is. The scientific process is trial and error. It starts with an observation and a question. The question produces answers. Most of the answers your brain serves up will be bad. You won't know they're bad until you test them. A lot of right answers sound wrong before they're tested. 

When someone tells you to find all the facts before stating a hypothesis, nod your head and ignore them. They're afraid of the answer. They like their treadmill. But you're free to find the answer that stands up to a test. That answer is pure gold, and it's hidden in a hypothesis.