Wednesday, October 27, 2010

There are no original questions, only original answers

This thought occurred to me when a few of us were wondering about a particular issue, and thought of posting it on Google. Through experience we have come to realize that whatever question we come up with, someone has asked it in the past. And while there may not be consistency in answers, there should at least be some help available from some source.

Sometimes, when asked a question, a person will speak "with authority," as if surely their answer is the only correct one, when in reality it's merely their opinion. I am no doubt guilty of this, myself, and should qualify some responses with "in my opinion."

I am finding that in academic writing, when making a case, the author/researcher must draw upon the existing body of knowledge to support their position. It is not unusual to find well in excess of one hundred sources referenced in these articles. As I pursue my doctorate, I am faced with this challenge, and will be drawing upon much of what exists in the performance literature (as my topic, no surprise I'm sure, is performance-related).

If a person only quotes materials that he/she has written as authoritative proof of their position, one might be understandably skeptical. This doesn't necessarily mean the person is wrong; just consider that there's minimal evidence to support their claim. On the other hand, having loads of documents to back one up may not necessarily mean that they're correct, either. This, of course, can make this analysis quite frustrating.

When we take over from another GIPS(R) (Global Investment Performance Standards) verification firm we often find situations where mistakes were made. Occasionally, when we offer a different opinion, the client may think that it's merely a "matter of opinion." This, of course, might be true. Fortunately with GIPS we have the standards themselves, guidance statements, and Q&As to turn to for support. But these may still not be sufficient, in which case it's necessary to be able to build a case for a position which is close to being irrefutable.

We receive questions on almost a daily basis. Oh, and contrary to this post's subject, some of the questions are original! Our industry is still, in a sense, in its infancy with much still to be discovered. Consequently, the answers aren't always obvious. And, our answers might change as new information is presented or discovered. This, I believe, adds to the enjoyment of performance measurement.

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