In the early nineties, there was a popular music group called Milli Vanilli. Their success came to an ignominious end when it became clear that the two charismatic singers of the group were actually unable to sing and were simply lip-syncing at every performance. What’s interesting is that, before their downfall, various live interviews already made clear that the singers not only had a very poor command of the English language, but also showed a remarkable difference between their speaking and singing voice. Yet, no-one wanted to connect the dots….
This is an example of suspension of disbelief: The absolute conviction that something is true, in spite of overwhelming evidence of the opposite, because it neatly fits your worldview and continues to provide rewards.
Suspension of disbelief is a big obstacle for high performance decision making. After all, the key to good decision making is first to acknowledge reality.
The big give-away which helps you to recognize that you’re dealing with suspension of disbelief, is a disconnect between risk and reward. It’s an iron law in business that you can only get new rewards by taking risks, i.e., doing something new and risk failure.
Therefore, a promise of a big reward, without any risk, is usually a sign of either a fraudulent enterprise, or an idea which hasn’t been given the proper amount of thought.
Which initiatives, goals or projects in your organization suffer from the suspension of disbelief, and may soon resemble a Milli Vanilli debacle?