Scott’s Thoughts: Abandoning Assumptions

“You must stick to your conviction, but be ready to abandon your assumptions. ”

-Denis Waitley (b. 1933), American motivational speaker, writer and consultant

WARNING: Assumptions Ahead Sign

Success today requires agility. Those who recognize shifts in trends early and do the hard work of inspecting their expectations nearly always outperform competitors. This is a difficult task to accomplish, however, especially when what you’re doing is “good enough” to hang with the market.

So how do you top-grade your game? The enemy of agility is complacency, and complacency is the result of standing by old assumptions. Therefore the best way to fight complacency is to routinely test your assumptions. Here are a few questions to help you do the hard work:

1. What assumptions am I making? It can be illuminating to find out exactly what you hold to be true. In every business situation, there are unique assumptions at work. They aren’t necessarily wrong, but you should know what they are.

2. Is there a story I’m ignoring? Stories tend to have at least two sides. If you have a handle on one side, but you’re dark about the other, it’s hard to rely on the assumption you know all the facts. (As we’ve talked about in the past, using the “5 Whys” approach can be helpful for digging out buried stories.)

3. How do I know what I know? Facts can be supported by evidence. Simply asking someone how they know what they know is the sort of razor you need to separate fact from speculation. Ask yourself the same question.

Do what you can to disrupt your assumptions and refresh your point of view. It might be the #1 survival strategy in a crowded, competitive field.

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