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The Cost of an Opinion is Evidence and Experience


Opinions…everyone has one, yet why do we value one individuals opinion over another? There are some obvious criteria – level of expertise, time spent in that field, credibility, cache and so on. That narrows down the selection process quite a bit, but still doesn’t really solve the problem.

In today’s wired world everyone can be a self proclaimed expert at something (and way too many people do just that). We used to be able to rely on traditional media (to an extent) to filter out the noise and provide us with experts to render opinions on topics that were clearly in their domain. Now that everyone from 7 year olds to Nobel Prize winners can reach an audience directly, the burden falls on us, the reader or consumer of information, to decipher which opinions should carry the most weight.

The cost of an opinion should be a combination of evidence and experience. If you think of it as a continuum we have thought leaders and experts that are very academic or research based. They’ve got more evidence to support their models than anyone else in their space. The facts, research and data are logical and irrefutable.

On the other end of the spectrum are experts that have years, perhaps decades, of experience practicing their craft and driving results. Is one better than the other? Not really. The question is which one is best suited to solve the client’s problem. The perfect balance is one that has a blend of evidence as well as experience in implementing the solution. Evidence in and of itself doesn’t guarantee a desired outcome, and experience may be anecdotal or impossible to replicate without evidence.

Now there are obviously exceptions to this line of thinking. I’m sure we can all think of situations where one extreme or the other was the only option we had and it all worked out just fine. What the take away should be if you’re an author or thought leader is to understand where you are on the continuum and how to supplement the gaps that you may have.

For example, if you’re an academic partnering with a client or two, or a consulting organization to take your work out into the “real” world would accomplish this. If you’re more experiential then you might need to partner with an academic or a research organization to create a tool that gives you the data to support your work (assuming that data can be cultivated). Presenting your work to an audience of any type with the right balance of data and experience is the cost of an opinion and in my opinion (based on both of course) will pay a healthy dividend to you and your organization.


Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

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