The Curious Case of Missing Option Three

I have been teaching at the Founders Institute for a number of years and have enjoyed every moment of my association with FI.

“Hot seats” are a standard fixture in every session at FI. This is where a founder gives a 3-minute pitch to the group that includes a set of teachers and mentors. Immediately following that teachers and mentors rate the pitch on a scale of 1-5 and provide some feedback. The first couple of years, the rating system had numbers from 1 to 5. The last year was a big change and the number of three was removed from the options available to the teachers and mentors.

Sitting on the Fence

Choosing number three as a rating is really a cop-out. Several teachers and mentors (including me) would pick that as an option sometimes for various reasons. It was definitely the safe option – an option where one could sit on the fence. This was a place where you could not go wrong – if the founder made progress, you could say you were on the higher end of three and if the founder didn’t make progress, you could say you were on the lower end of three – whatever. Basically, you had an option to come out unscathed irrespective of what happened next.

Taking a Stand

Removing the option of choosing three forced everyone to take a stand – a clear stand on whether you like what you hear or not. Sitting on the fence is not an option. Choosing a two would send a message and choosing a four would send a very different message. Removing option three was a brilliant move by Adeo Ressi (founder of FI) to completely eliminate a “cop out” choice.

Beyond Hot Seats

This concept has wide ranging applications way beyond rating pitches during hot seats. Every time you ask for feedback of any kind, it is better to remove the “cop out” choice. It really doesn’t help if you get a three as a rating for anything. You don’t know what is being said. You don’t know whether they are happy or sad or they are just trying to be nice and polite. It is better to know the real feedback than to be in the fantasy world that everything is just great.

Have a great weekend.