There are many well known, treasured beliefs that direct how we make decisions, apply time, money and materiel in order to solve problems. Is all of this effort well spent?
It is not uncommon to hear various laments about “the good ol’ days” shortly after some unspeakable act of violence is splashed across the media. We all know that crime is out of control, that violence is more prevalent and that something must be done!
The reality is that the chance of a violent death, anywhere in the world, be it crime or war has dropped steeply and continues to do so. Study after study show violent deaths, and violence in general, is on the decline. This in no way diminishes the experience of anyone who was a victim of violence. It does raise the question, is the something must be done really an effective idea?
A related thing everyone knows is that poverty is a leading cause of crime. Once again, study after study has shown that historically, poverty is a contributor to causing crime but not a leading cause. (Some have argued the reverse.) The economic crash of 2008 led to a decline in crime, not an increase. In fact, the same characteristics that lead to criminal behavior also tend to make a person poor. To put it another way, both crime and poverty have common causes, but do not cause each other. How much money and effort and programs are based on the belief that poverty causes crime?
In the face of evidence, humans have a remarkable ability to simply ignore what does not fit the phrase “we all know that ….”. As access to information grows and the ability to analyze information at a large scale increases, how long can some treasured beliefs in your organization remain in the face of contradictory evidence? It will be interesting to watch the human capacities for change and suspension of belief struggle in the new world of information.