A flyer pinned on a bulletin board advertised Beachfront Property For Sale and featured this photo:
The next day, while on our way to Jemma’s Tree House for lunch, we stopped on the road between Crown Point and Speyside and I took some photos of my own.
The situation reminded me of what a colleague calls Data Beautification and what I call Wart Removal.
By any name, wart removal is the process that occurs when research reports pass through the hands of gatekeepers.In most organizations, research reports go through one or more gatekeepers on the way from the research itself to The Boss. In this example, the raw data collected in the field by the researchers (me, and retroactively) shows the actual home for sale.
Gatekeepers deliberately suppress the full story and deliberately embellish it.
The Boss thinks this is a lovely beachfront home when it is a roofless, unfinished building in great disrepair.
The principle of Data Beautification is simple.
Executives with direct access to The Boss use their gatekeeping positions to sell prettied-up pitches that tell only part of the real story and leave out a lot of very important information. If you’re The Boss, you never get to see all the evidence. You get to see only what gatekeepers choose to show you.
Every time a gatekeeper touches information, it gets altered. And every time, the story you are told is less than the truth, and prettier, too.