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Common Sense = Pursuit of Truth in Business Decision Making

Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of an e-commerce company called Rakuten, an online shopping website for Japanese merchandise, put a short post on LinkedIn this week about “common sense” being a hurdle to success in some instances. He cites the advice he got against launching his most recent company, which he characterized as “commonsense advice” against entering what looked like a crowded marketplace.

The post is brief, so we don’t have details about how Mr. Mikitani winkled out his business opportunity in the “red ocean” of e-commerce, but it resonated with us because his complaint aligns with our own “pursuit of truth” philosophy. Rather than “common sense,” we would call it “accepted wisdom” or “opinions masquerading as facts.”

Indeed, with a due respect to the point Mr. Mikitani has made, we would like to reclaim “common sense” from negative connotations, because we like a commonsense approach to problems and opportunities that involves applying the Pursuit of Truth tenet to all decision-making.

There were a number of comments under Mr. Mikitani’s article that took our position on what constitutes common sense, so we feel encouraged that commonsense business decision making founded on the pursuit of truth will continue to be great leadership practice.

Semantics aside, the success of Rakuten makes clear that business decision-making needs to focus on the truth, or as much of it as can be found, rather than the short-cuts of assumptions, even those based on “years of experience.”

Change is our only constant, and the past is not necessarily prologue to the future!

Does this makes sense? What do you think?

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