The Value of Your Opinion
I sat alone in my shared office, quietly listening to music on the computer and contemplating the mysteries
of life while I browsed the internet when the door opened swiftly and slammed loudly behind my assistant
as he stormed in. Before I could even ask, he started into a tirade about the idiocy of the people we
worked for. He was upset because he had just left a meeting with the senior managers of operations and
IT as well as the company ownership in which he’s opinions had been completely dismissed. He explained
that they were going to rearrange the server structure and purchase two new servers. He had taken
offence because he was the one who had designed the current structure and spent hours if not days
putting everything together. It worked and it worked the way it should. The only problem was that the IT
manager (his former boss) didn’t like it. Truth be known, the IT manager didn’t completely understand it
but it didn’t matter. Senior management had made their decision and their decision was to follow the IT
manager’s opinion and not the opinion of the software intern. He was pissed, partially because of the
decision but mostly because of the way they off handily dismissed his opinion. He said that he felt like a
twelve year old who was being sent to the kid table for Thanksgiving dinner. He said he almost expected
them to tell him to be quit because children should be seen and not heard.
I couldn’t help myself, I laughed, it was funny. In a moment or two he had to admit it was a funny picture
but he was bitter about it. It was a perfect moment for some sage-like wisdom and I just happened to have
the precise jewel on knowledge to offer.
I said, “The value of your opinion is based upon the amount you are paid not the amount of knowledge or
experience you have.”
This is why decisions are most often made by managers and executives rather then technicians or
functionaries. The corporate logic is simple. The company pays Bill more money then John therefore Bill’s
opinion is worth more then John’s. He was pretty quick on the up take and got this one right away. He was
not happy to have heard it but he was better informed.
I said, “Of course there is a political component.” The IT manager was still hurt from having been
abandoned by his intern (my assistant) who was more interested in software then networking. “And then
there is perception to consider,” I continued. You came into the company as an intern, their still paying
you like and intern, they still think of you as an intern (an underling). I added that he was also twenty plus
years younger then most of them and that didn’t help the situation. I finished with the fact that they were
paying him to develop software now and not maintain a computer network. The business mindset is to
compartmentalize tasks into jobs. So if they are paying you to perform certain tasks they expect that you
should be the one to consult about those tasks. If not, then the question arises, “Why are we paying this
person to do this task?” At the heart of the matter the issue remained the same, basic corporate
understanding is that the opinions of people who are paid more are better then the opinions of people who
are paid less. Yes, I know you are thinking No! there not. One person’s opinion is not better then
another. That sounds great in a utopian socialist dream world but it’s just not true. In the real world some
opinions are just stupid. Opinions are only as good as the information and experience that form them.
The funny thing is that the accumulate mind of business rarely digs that deep in thought on the subject.
Owners and management generally believe that if they pay someone more money then that person must
have better opinions. That’s why they are paying them more right? If not, then they are over paying
them. If they are overpaying then that means they made a mistake or are getting taken advantage of.
And of course that can’t be because they are the owners and therefore must be smarter then everyone
who works for them, right?
You can’t take it personal and let yourself get offended by how others in an organization perceive you.
You have to remember that outside of the smushy interpersonal gobbledeegoop business is a cold
calculated process. You and your opinions are some sort of commodity or service. You are paid for the
use of that commodity or service. The value of the commodity or service (your opinions) are relative to
what they pay you. Keep in mind that if you are not being paid for the use of your opinions then they have
no value at all.
The Lesson to Learn:
The work place is a complex and comical environment. Ridiculous decisions are made for obvious and
abstract reasons that are often beyond understanding but there is a reason behind each and everyone.
In order to successfully navigate the turbulent currents of business you have to remain dispassionate and
identify the underlying calculations that drive the decisions being made.
The Brutal Truth:
The value of your opinion is based on the amount you are being paid.