Recently, I’ve heard a lot of people saying that we need to follow the science. It’s a catchy slogan, but what exactly does it mean?
I have deep respect for science, scientists, and the knowledge they have produced. They are a pillar of our modern world.
But science cannot weigh competing priorities, make moral judgments, or decide political decisions. Anybody who thinks science can solve all our problems is going to be disappointed.
For many people in the pandemic, follow the science seems to mean shut everything down. Epidemiologists might agree, because for many their goal is to squash the virus. But economists and psychologists tell us that lockdowns carry a heavy price. Mass unemployment, business failures, bankruptcies, lost learning time, loneliness, and many other health consequences will follow. So which scientists should we even listen to?
How do we choose between these competing priorities? This is one of the biggest leadership challenges we’ve ever seen. People all over the world are struggling with the same question. There is no simple answer.
To make good decisions, we absolutely need the best data and insights that experts can provide for their respective domains. This information can then be used to make more informed decisions.
In many ways, this is similar to how companies like Alliance make investment deals. How much insurance does a particular property need? How reliable is a tenant going to be? What is the maximum purchase price we can justify? There’s never a clear answer. We have to inform ourselves as best we can, and exercise good judgment.
Successful business people do their due diligence by analyzing the data and seeking out relevant experts. Behind every good deal is a lot of research, analysis, and double-checking. We always want to include the advice of lawyers, actuaries, and local market experts.
These days, it seems like everything is so politicized. That’s not helping. Rather than slogans, we need sound judgment and good leadership. Science can help inform our decisions, but we have to make our own choices. This applies for the pandemic, for business decisions and for life more broadly.