Jack Shafer published on 24th March an interesting post in the Slate online magazine, titled “Numbers Are Hard To Come By“. The premise of his article is that journalists, not completely informed or updated with quantitative and qualitative data relating to their area of reporting, are not forthcoming in their public reporting about that lack of data and are not shying away from making unwarranted and unsubstantiated conclusions.
As I was contemplating the unscrupulous nature of some journalists I couldn’t ignore the lingering thought that similar, though perhaps less consequential, behaviour is also prevalent in project management blog-land.
Few examples come to mind:
Earlier discussions over emphasising the role that Social Media tools play in the context of project management. It is obvious to me that these were motivated more by wishful thinking than clear evidence.
In a similar context, the public debate abut PM 2.0 – yet again – a debate about something that ended up being absolutely nothing.
Agile as the next saviour of IT projects – yet another example to a debate based entirely on expectations and wishful thinking – without any credible evidence to back it up.
What I find particularly fascinating is the fact that discussions about such topics can carry on and flare up for long periods of time, with none of the participants in this discussion having a clue about where reality ends and speculation begins. As Jack Shafer suggests in his article, there is nothing wrong with speculating and making calculated guesses, provided that such inferences are accompanied with a suitable disclaimer, noting the lack of data and providing the methodological context for making the assumption. But, as Jack Shafer concludes “I’ve yet to see a reporter do this, if only because it’s too easy to build an audience-pleasing story on soft numbers“.
Think about it!