SOCRATES: What, Lysimachus, are you going to accept the opinion of the majority?
LYSIMACHUS: Why, yes, Socrates; what else am I to do?
SOCRATES: And would you do so too, Melesias? If you were deliberating about the gymnastic training of your son, would you follow the advice of the majority of us, or the opinion of the one who had been trained and exercised under a skillful master?
MELESIAS: The latter, Socrates; as would surely be reasonable.
SOCRATES: His one vote would be worth more than the vote of all us four?
SOCRATES: And for this reason, as I imagine–because a good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers?
MELESIAS: To be sure.” – The Socratic Dialogue: Laches by Plato
Too often in our modern organizations we see change management efforts reduced to policy popularity contests. The idea with the most supporters gets the most attention, never mind which idea will actually work.
In this week’s “Quote of the Week,” I offer you this ancient dialogue between Socrates and two earnest fathers, Lysimachus and Melesias, to show you that man’s tendency to side with the majority over the knowledgeable has existed since ancient times.
The challenge we all face, from then up through today, is acknowledging the difference between knowledge and numbers and choosing knowledge.
Where are you trying to make a big decision in your organization?
Are you looking to the numbers or the knowledge to guide you?
It’s not too late to choose knowledge. You’ll be glad you did.