ProSpeak: A Not-So-Common Understanding of Fundraising and Common Sense
A novice to all this and insecure in my new position, I was overwhelmed by the need for more feedback. At dinner, I leaned toward our client product manager sitting to my left and asked, "What did you think about our findings and recommendations?" "It was excellent," he responded, "although it was all just common sense."
I was shocked. Did he miss the reference to "multivariate analysis"? Was he unaware of the difficulty of marrying qualitative survey data to the numerical findings of factor analysis? Had he failed to recognize my boss's unique insight into the importance of food products on psycho-social interactions? In what possible way were any of these complicated analytical outcomes or detailed recommendations "common sense"?
What is common sense?
Many consulting years later, this dinner conversation finally made sense to me. My first client had paid us a huge compliment, but I was too green to recognize it for what it was.
It's almost common sense to say that common sense seems very uncommon. Sometimes, common sense may not seem very sensible either. But, before we dismiss the idea as totally meaningless, let's see how this term might be better understood.
Think about "common" as meaning something that is widely shared — like a "commons" area in a large building. Think about "sense" as our intuitive perceptions of what something means. In this sense, then, "common sense" happens when many of us share a perception of what something is all about. So, it's common sense that the sky is blue (on a good day), mom is a new baby's favorite person and the earth is flat.
I hope that last statement made you cringe. It's key to understanding the rest of this essay.
What is uncommon sense?
Progress comes to humanity when someone develops an uncommon sense. For example, Christopher Columbus (so the common story goes) came up with a stunning insight, "The earth is round, and therefore, I can reach the world to our east by sailing west."