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Is Perception Reality or Just Plain Perception?

We all know the phrase "Perception is reality." I've used it dozens of times myself, but not the way you might think. The truth is that perception is reality to the masses, but in the business world, perception is just plain perception. It counts, but it's not reality.

This may put some people off, but so be it. The truth does that, sometimes.

And the truth is this: when executives fly to Washington in corporate jets to ask for a taxpayer bailout, that's a huge PR mistake. It's a perception thing. The only meaning behind it is that Detroit's CEOs don't get PR, perception, and its reality to the masses.

It's the same thing with compensation packages. If the same CEOs offer to cut their pay to a dollar, that's a PR gesture, just like driving to the next bailout session in a hybrid. It speaks to perception. Now they're playing to the masses.


The reality is this: no bailout will matter because the problem with the big three automakers is their huge fixed UAW-related cost, i.e. GM's billion dollar a month burn rate. These companies need to restructure and the UAW has to step up to the plate. That's reality. Salaries and mode of travel don't count for beans, here.

Congress and the media may react to the perception part, but I guess that's their job, to play to their audience. The cold hard business reality hasn't changed one bit. I assume that BNET's audience - largely composed of managers and business folks - is savvy to this.

As evidence, a BNET reader provided this comment to a related blog post:

It seems that a business related column would have knowledgeable folks...whoops. Execs taking a dollar will not put a finger in the dike. The reason the car manufacturers are going belly up is the UAW. The big three are retiree benefits managers that, oh by the way, make autos.

Easy to point a finger, but before you do, understand the whole picture.

This person understands the difference between perception and reality. He or she gets it.

When I started blogging, I saw it as an opportunity to better inform the business audience. Unfortunately, like many in the media and in Congress, the blogosphere is full of people who either don't get that perception is just perception, or bank on perception being reality to the masses.

In either case, they fuel hype, overreaction, volatility, and yes, even bubbles.

But that's just me. Is it just my perception, or reality?

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