about   |   writing   |   archives

Common Sense

Ashgabat: the world's largest flag pole

For certain types of research – the highest compliment that a client can pay is that your findings are ‘common sense’. They usually point this out retrospectively, despite having had a conversation around the subject where this was neither assumed or articulated. Common sense can be the mother lode of client buy-in – the results are undisputed, clearly articulated and travel well throughout (and often beyond) their organisation. Your findings rapidly become the perceived wisdom.

As a researcher you’ve seen something that everyone might have had a vague, subconscious hunch about if only they’d bothered asking the question, but nobody took the time to decode. In a world that disproportionately seeks out and rewards novelty ‘common sense’ might seem like a put down, defeat. In reality it means that the battle of ideas has already been won, and you can move onto the next.

Now You just need to find a topic that is both relevant to your clients business where nobody has bothered to ask the question yet.

Since you’re wondering about the photo – its a pre-storm shot of what is currently the world’s tallest flag pole (133m) in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat. There’s something in the human psyche that keeps pushing to be the first, the highest, the most, …, and no-one remembers second, third or ninth. This perpetual desire for and disproportionate attention on first distorts our understanding of and how we communicate norms.