What works and what doesn’t

The 2 most common questions asked by the business press –

1. What works?
2. And, what doesn’t?

The press then picks out practices from successful/unsuccessful companies from time-to-time and attempts to answer these questions. We then get a list of practices that we place into one of the two categories. These lists are akin to fashion trends – depending on the time of year, it is either cool to do open offices or not, cool to work remotely or not, etc.

They are, however, the wrong questions. The next time you find yourself asking these questions, it is worth swapping them with 2 others –
1. What worked or didn’t work in this situation or context?
2. Can we abstract from the specific situation to general principles that could be applicable to the general population or, at least, to a significant subset of the population?

These questions are much harder to answer. They might also not take us anywhere. But, that’s the point.

It is hard to get to real insight.