Linear Metrics in Non-Linear Times?

“If it disagrees with experiment, its wrong”

Our point today is to assess how behavioral decisions are being made today; not about the politics of one candidate or the other.

The race to the US presidential election has entered its final phase.  As of this writing, establishment wisdom holds the conventional candidate as the presumptive winner.

Pollical polling is a linear straightforward process albeit with the inherent bias of ‘all’ behavioral instruments.  Effective surveys will take a statistically significant representative sample and project those results to the larger electorate.  A time-honored approach for product marketing as well.

However, there is another school of thought.  When a new produce/idea is disruptive or not well understood, the firm needs to be proactive rather than simply reactive such as using a survey.  Steve Jobs stated, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them.  By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.

One interpretation, ‘They don’t know what they don’t know.’  Echo the words of Donald Rumsfeld!

Pollsters suggests that 2016 will not be repeated and they have modified their survey instrument control processes.  Recently one noted canvasser, Frank Luntz stated, “Pollsters did not do a good job in 2016.  So, if Donald Trump surprises people, if Joe Biden had a 5 or 6-point lead, my profession is done.”

Our Lying Eyes

When the world was the center of the universe with all the stars and galaxies rotating around us, linear projections confirmed the observed metrics.  However, famously, Nobel laureate, Richard Feynman taught us that, “If it disagrees with experiment, its wrong.”

Galileo and Kepler among others experimented using the observable data differently.  They discovered that the universe does not revolve around our planet.

Their assessments altered the given world forever and caused them significant personal angst in the process.  Established ‘science’ did not welcome this change readily.

If the incumbent rallies and is elected for a second term despite expert projections using legacy linear tools, it maybe time to rethink how social beliefs and behaviors are measured.  Given the problems with Covid-19 data management, the same maybe said for that issue as well

Hypothesis—Disruption cannot be accurately measured with traditional tools.


Beyond politics and marketing, there are lessons for all of us.  Artificial Intelligence, Search Engines, Predictive, Big Data Analytics, Machine Learning, IoT et al are now all the rage.  But what if they are using the wrong algorithms?

There are ramifications for our daily lives.  In March 2019, the Boeing Max 8 was grounded and has yet to return to service.  Will driverless automobiles put us all at risk?

This survey question maybe answered on November 3 or whenever the final results are tabulated.  Other questions about the use of other metrics will remain unanswered; at least for now.

How are you certain your decision supports processes and tools are providing valid and reliable data?

For More Information

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For more information on Cross Cultural Engagement, check out our Cross Cultural Serious Game

We presented, Should Cross Cultural Serious Games Be Included in Your Diversity Program: Best Practices and Lessons Learned at the Online Conference, New Diversity Summit 2020 the week of September 14, 2020.  Check Out this timely event and contact the organizer for access to the presentations!!

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