Last November, I posted some Words To Live By that I often use throughout my business dealings to help guide myself and our management team at Billtrust.
There is another phrase that keeps coming up that I find myself quoting a lot:
Would You Rather Be Right or get the Right Answer?
We all suffer from this occasionally - in business and in life. We come up with a new idea that we want to implement. We present it to others in our organization. A debate ensues, and we find ourselves arguing fervently for the new idea. Not necessarily because it's a good idea, but because it's our idea. At some point in any discussion of a new idea, preferably immediately, you should be debating based on the merit of the idea, not who owns the idea.
Put another way - I'd rather be wrong and get the right answer, then be right and get the wrong answer. Seems obvious when put this way, but I think we all could use a little reminder now and then.
This came up on Sunday when I was lucky enough to bring my daughter to see LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers play a basketball against the New Jersey Nets. (BTW, you want to see a classic case of a great employee, LeBron James is it. He works hard, he jokes around with fans and has fun, he performs under pressure, keeps his team involved, etc. The kid is 24 years old).
Anyway, at one point in the game, a ball went out of bounds and it was difficult to determine who last touched it. The ref closest to the play immediately called it off the Cavs and gave the ball to the Nets. Another ref, who had a better angle, even though he was farther away, immediately went over the first ref and asked him how sure he was of his call because he was pretty sure he saw it the other way. They wound up reversing the call, got a bunch of boos from the home crowd, but got to the right call. The refs had been trained that it's best to try and get the right call at all times.
This hasn't always been the case in professional sports. It used to be that it was way more important for a ref/umpire to stick with their original calls, otherwise players would be questioning every call. In the last few years this has changed. You now frequently see referees and umpires huddling together to try and get the right answer. This is the way it should work, even though one person has to admit that they were wrong.
Are you the kind of person that is willing to admit you're wrong to get to the right answer?