You know the old joke about the dangers of making assumptions, right? This is why it’s surprising that we make so many assumptions every single day. If you are a manager, I bet you recently made a few of these:
- If my employees don’t know how to do something, they will let me know.
- My performance expectations are understood by each member of my team.
- The change I’m about to announce won’t be a big deal.
Here’s a test. Ask yourself, “What do I know about my organization?” Now quickly list the first ten things that come to mind. After you complete the list, go back to the top and for each item jot down the proof you have for that assumption. If you can’t explain why you know something is true, you’re dealing with an assumption which may turn out to be false.
I’ll admit, I don’t confirm every assumption I have. Some are hidden to me. For others it seems like too much effort with little upside. In those cases I’m fine going with my gut and hoping for the best. On the other hand, flying through life and never evaluating my assumptions strikes me as a really bad idea. When it is critical that an assumption is correct, it’s well worth the time and effort to check it out. Every business model is based on a few key assumptions. Would your business survive if one of those wasn’t true? Are you willing to take the risk of not being sure?
Everyone likes to think what they believe is true. Whoops, now I’ve included an assumption. Let me fix it by saying that you may or may not be right about much of what you think. My advice is to figure out when it matters and do the work to convert the most critical assumptions into rock-solid facts.
Image credit: Milosz1