The Self-Justification Lens

Here’s a tidbit I took from a recent mistakes have been made trope.

You’ll likely be familiar with this style of non-apology apology.

Mistakes have been made, lesson’s have been learned, we move forward better for it.

Vacuous corporate-speak evoked with the recent “transition” in Zimbabwean governance. (“We have removed a tyrant but not yet a tyranny” :: opposition politician David Coltart.)

Plus ça change.

You’re kind of reminded of the infamous quip attributed to Stalin, “the death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions a mere statistic”.

This though does hold an insight into the Boardroom.

I note that those who deride this current quasi-mea culpa fashion do so in part because they suggest that one key factor to take into account is the degree of need for self-justification.

Apparently, in this regard there’s a pair of circumstances when it is highly advisable to not ask for an opinion. When discussing the 2007 book that began this debate, I heard Arts broadcaster Harriett Gilbert put it like this;

they say that you should never, ever take a recommendation from somebody who’s just done something either;

very difficult, or

very expensive

I also noted, “no one thinks they’re the bad guy”. As well as the delicious quote “If mistakes were made, memory helps us remember that they were made by someone else”.

Even when police charges get dropped by irrefutable forensics, a doctor is proven to mis-diagnose or any scientific theory is totally debunked, the supposedly most intelligent of people cannot come to terms with the ‘new truth’. And sadly spend most of their time sticking to their guns in some (dare I say, sometimes revanchist) way.

And so it is in solution selling. Or ought I say, solution buying. Which we must be alert to.

Is this perhaps an additional lens through which it is necessary to view your prospect landscape?

If there has been a previous decision made considered either ultra tricky or pricey – crucially one that now you’re hoping to overturn in some way – then who was most invested in it who sees fear in its erasure?

The converse can also apply. If such a decision somewhere is recent enough that it’s legacy cannot be yet measured, them to see it blossom as promised there may well be scope to add around the edges. Although I feel that in my experience the urge to ‘throw good money after bad’ can outvote the desire to ‘secure the investment’.

Do you know who is most likely to exhibit this type of self-justification in your prospect accounts?

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