Research, analysis, and thought leadership for enterprise communications.

Does The Truth Matter Anymore?

by in Telecom

The type of discussion that I find most tiring is the endless, constant spin of reality. There is an acceptance that truth is malleable. I think truth is rigid.

This all probably stems from marketing: sell the sizzle, not the steak. True enough, this works. And it even helps consumers. But at some point it undermines corporate credibility.

I was at a dinner with several Boeing folks. And eventually the conversation turned to their prodigy 787 Dreamliner. After a while I had heard enough of their propaganda and spin and I predictably chimed in.

The Boeing 787 is in my opinion the most uncomfortable, unpleasant, miserable flying experience in the air. The room became quiet for a moment and then the Boeing loyalists attacked me.

The airplane is incredibly noisy inside, with volume levels averaging 100 decibels in some seats and 86 in the few better ones. The seats are 16.5″ wide, making them the most narrow of any Boeing or Airbus plane. The seats are rock hard on the butt. The Windows don’t fully darken. I could go on and on about this claptrap of a conveyance.

The Boeing folks (including two executives) were livid by my remarks and “opinions.”

Now I am an unusual passenger. Every time I fly I measure the noise level in my seat. I measure the seat widths. I even measure the amount of seat cushion and hardness. I photograph most meals. I’m not sure why I do this, but it’s part of my management style to measure everything. “That which is measured can be managed.”

So I just pulled out my iPhone with the sound level measurements, seat measurements, and seat pad comfort and showed them the facts.

Have you ever seen angry Boing people before? It’s not a pretty sight. It was like I kicked a beehive. What seat was I in? Was my device celebrated? Did I take several samples? Perhaps some configurations are different. They are very good at applying bureaucratic shrapnel. (Answers: I fly a lot. I have dozens of similar readings. I also walk the plane taking readings. I cake rate my sound meter. And, pretty much every model I have been on is the same.)

I got pretty angry! Can’t the facts just be the facts anymore? Do we live in a world where everything is spin, nothing can be trusted, and truth doesn’t matter?

I see this same thing happening in telecommunications (especially the cell companies). Actually, I even see it happening in my own company. It’s really hard to get at the truth when so many people are on a quest to ignore it.

That which can be measured can be managed. My father thought me that.


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  • Art Schoeller

    Love it Colin…..and at first I thought you were going to invoke Truthiness, but you avoided that.

  • mjgraves

    I completely agree. Although I must admit that I do admire the 777. Never been on a 787 to my knowledge.

    This begs a question….who is in charge of design at Boeing? Who is their Jony Ive? What you describe are either things that were deliberately done at the request of the airlines, or were completely overlooked….with no in-house champion to ensure that they were addressed.

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About this Post


Colin Berkshire is a highly technical HR executive in the Pulp and Paper Industry. Colin has an engineering and voice background, and is currently on assignment in Asia. NOTE: Colin does not respond to comments, and does not Tweet.