What role do insights agencies and organisations play in the factfulness of our society?
In a nutshell
- Most Kiwis would probably agree that if we want a better society and if we want people to make better decisions we need to respect facts. But how do we know what’s true?
- If New Zealand organisations want to earn the respect of customers, then it is time for them to stand up for factfulness.
- A good place to start is around three key areas: transparency, clarity and purpose.
In what seems like a lifetime ago in the pre-COVID era, I spent a weekend away with a group of friends, off the grid – no internet access for 48 hours, but plenty of wine and time to kill.
After the initial withdrawal panic came a period of peaceful, fully in the room engagement with friends. Very soon the conversation turned to various current issues and a general putting-of-the-world-to-rights. This is when being off the grid became a challenge for me, as my friends made statements that, as someone who studies and surveys New Zealanders professionally, I knew to be incorrect. No, most people killed on the roads are not killed by tourists! But, without internet access I couldn’t show them how to fact check – and did it really matter?
My point is that while any right-minded person wholeheartedly condemns deliberate fake news and ‘alternative facts’, in reality we succumb to it all the time. I use my friends as an illustration, but we hear unfounded assumptions all the time in business meetings. For example, ‘most families are streaming on multiple devices around the home’. No, they’re not. Some families are, but not most. At a conference I spoke at recently I asked everyone to stand up if they had heard or taken part in a conversation to the effect that ‘no one watches linear TV anymore’. Almost everyone stood. Then I asked them to sit down if they personally had watched any linear TV in the last 7 days. Hardly anyone was left standing.*