Sweeping Generalizations

By Mainak Biswas July 26, 2007 - 606 views

Right before lunch, one of my colleagues pointed out that Michael Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of FaceBook (or the biggest rival of Bill Gates when it comes to stealing ideas!) is just 23 years old and Harvard University dropout. Right then another guy stated – “All university dropouts become rich!”

Thats what sweeping generalization is all about.  I heard it for the first time when I read Edward DeBono’s , “How to have a Beautiful Mind“. These are statements in which there seems to be sufficient evidence offered to draw a conclusion, but the conclusion drawn far exceeds what the evidence supports. While it true that many rich and famous people are university dropouts but it never implies that all university dropouts make it big.

Take another example, if you have worked with 2 outsourcing companies and got your fingers burnt , does it conclude that all software companies in India are bad? There is a lot of evidence that most terrorists are from Islamic nations, does it mean that all Islamic nations are terrorists? The conclusion drawn is just too exaggerating based on the evidence used.

We come across these statement everyday in our lives and as managers its very important for us to understand its implications. Sweeping Generalizations are far too common and they disable open-minded thinking which is important for decision making.

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