The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Nvidia, in the past of other companies such as Iagination Technologies, MIPS, Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Is it better to be persuasively wrong than non-persuasively right?

With respect to an issue

a) one may be wrong or right

b) one may be able to persuade those with power, or one may be unable to persuade those with power

For good measure

c) one may be able to persuade those with knowledge but not power, or not.

Alhough this last point, c) may not matter much.

It is nice to imagine that it
0) is best to be right, and able to persuade those with power. Best for both you, and the organization you belong to.

What is next best?:

1) to have been wrong, but to have been able to persuade those with power to follow your incorrect recommendations

2) to have been right, but to have been unable to persuade those with power to follow your correct recommendations

I am sure that anyonme with experience of business or politics realizes that 1) is better: it is better, for your career, to have been perusaively wrong, than non-persuasively right.

Particularly if you are able to be promoted and transferred away before the bad effects of the incorrect recommendations have been felt.

But what about the organization? Is the organization better off rewarding persuasively incorrect people? Or should the organization try to recognize non-persuasive correct people?

Heck - if the consequences of an incorrect decision are felt late enough, there is no benefit to the individual to have been correct: all that matters is that the individual was persuasive. Nevertheless, and organization that does not favor correct over incorrect decisions shoud not last long.

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