Numbers Snow Jobs: The Emperor's New Clothes?

Mar 29, 2011

Have you ever been asked to make a decision based on numbers that you just didn’t understand? Sometimes those numbers were provided electronically or in a hardcopy report, but most likely you were in the audience for an oral presentation, with glitzy PowerPoint slides, loaded with impressive numbers, zipping past your eyes. And you just didn’t quite understand the point of all those numbers floating around, but you chose not to ask any questions or raise any objections, out of fear that you might appear to be one of “the dumbest guys in the room.” Hmmm?

If this has ever happened to you, did you by chance stop and wonder if you were really the only person who didn’t understand the information? If so, I encourage you to revisit a children’s story by Hans Christian Anderson, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Speak up! You’re in the audience, and therefore you have the upper hand over the presenter of the information. In future posts, I’ll explain why that’s so.

“Painting with Numbers” is my effort to get people talking about financial statements and other numbers in ways that we can all understand. I welcome your interest and your feedback.

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