ProSpeak: A Not-So-Common Understanding of Fundraising and Common Sense
It took many years and many people in addition to Columbus, but eventually, the widely shared perception about the nature of the earth has totally changed. The uncommon sense, the earth is round, has become the common sense. Children today still initially perceive the earth as flat. But children today are educated about the earth at an early age, and most of them quickly join the rest of us in our common understanding that we live on a giant globe.
Uncommon sense is what research physicists have about subatomic particles, what priests have about God and what consultants (the good ones) have about your problems. These are insights, unique to them, that help them make sense of what they are studying.
We build schools expecting that the uncommon sense held by our teachers can be transformed into the common sense of our population. We build churches in the hopes that the uncommon sense held by our religious leaders can become the common sense of our religious community. And we hire consultants in the desire that their uncommon sense about our problems can be transformed into explanations we can all understand, and thereby take mastery over, in a common manner.
I didn't realize it then, but when my first client told me all our findings were "just common sense," he was confirming we had done our job well. Before we began our work, the recommendations we made were not common in any sense — no recommendations existed and the correct decisions were anything but obvious — which is why it hired consultants in the first place. When my presentation was finished, though, the client's world had gone from flat to round, and like Christopher Columbus, he suddenly had totally new ideas about what directions to take his new food products.