Monday, October 06, 2008

The Power of Assumptions

Take our Survey on Assumptions Survey Monkey A great tool, free for use by one an all... with an upgrade available (for a fee) for those that need more power in their survey methodology. Please take this survey on "assumptions" before reading this blog:
Take the Survey Now
Honest. Please take just ten seconds before proceeding. I will share the results in the next few days. Assumptions Challenging my assumptions is not my first reaction. At least not most of the time. Like every other human on planet earth, I tend to get caught up in the situation that is unfolding. Not a good thing. Not at all. Too many years ago, I was the first car on the scene of what I recall was a single car accident. Near Dogwood, Alabama of all places. No, not the Dogwood that comes up on google maps, the one North of Montevallo University (which is south of Birmingham). (Hi AJ!) Well, I see this car roll over and I rush to the scene. Jump out of the car and run over to the ditch. It does not look good. I look around and the road seems deserted. So I yell that I will go get help. This was before cell phones. The point? I might have been of some help, but did not have any flares or even a first aid kit in the car. I was not sure when another car might come along (not a very populated area)... so my problem solving approach suggested that I needed to quickly get to a phone and call the professionals. Which I did. How do you react? Today, I have hundreds (if not thousands) of real life examples to draw upon in order to determine the best course of action. And, a cell phone. Okay, here is the $64 question: "If the same scenario played out today, on a deserted back road someone, would I still inform the victim that I was going to get help?" No. I would turn on my four way flashers, park in a safe spot, call for help on my cell phone, and attempt to offer first aid. In this second case, technology has changed the rules. I now have a cell phone. How does this discussion address our theme of assumptions? Have you challenged your assumptions in light of any (and all!) new technology at work? One of the great benefits when using a toolbox of great tools for solving problems, like the Constraints Management Model (CMM) advanced by H. William Dettmer (in his book, Strategic Navigation), is that they allow (if not demand) you challenge your assumptions! In our survey, the example offers a number of opportunities to challenge the assumptions. Consider just one minor twist. Say that the young gentleman in the case study reports the problem to his mom. She offers a possible solution, "The steering wheel is probably binding the lock, preventing the ignition key from turning. Try turning the wheel." Now, the lead character has several options to explore before taking action. Say that he tries "turning the wheel" and it does not work. What might his assumption be at this point? Mom was wrong! Unless his mom is Danica Patrick, he may not trust his mother's opinion when it comes to finer points of automobiles. Forget that mom has been driving for 20 plus years. Forget that she must have some experience in a similar situation. How else could she quickly offer an opinion? Trust The oft hidden component of assumptions. Who do you trust? If you have been recently burnt, your trust quotient might be lower than normal. If there is a "normal". What if you have been successful your whole life, but now your business is facing huge losses? Do you still "trust" yourself? Today, I strive to challenge the assumptions first. The graphic tools in the CMM toolbox (like the Strategic IO Map or the Current Reality Tree) serve to put a face on the challenge, allowing my mind to wrestle the assumptions to the ground! Until you come to a basic understanding of the holistic nature of business (and the econometric model we call free enterprise in the United States of America), you will be unable to challenge your assumptions. Until you explore your "trust" quotient, you cannot effectively deal with your problems. I grew up in Ohio, near an Amish community. They have an expression that speaks volumes:
"Trust me until you can."
For me that simply says, lets proceed as if I have won your trust. In other words, why not assume that I am trustworthy, at least until I prove myself trustworthy? Or until I violate your trust? It makes life a lot easier. Do I get burnt more often? No. Most people tend to live up to your expectations. So I tend to expect more from my business connections. Yes, there are set backs. Methinks it is called life. However, as I continue to challenge the assumptions, of which trust is just one component, I gain a more complete understanding of the problem. And when trust is broken or abused, action is required. Nothing new in that statement. The Power of Assumptions? For me, the power is in challenging assumptions. What breakthroughs await you on the other side of status quo? So, take the survey and I will report the results in a few days. -ski P.S. Need help challenging your assumptions? Call me. ---- Jeff 'SKI' Kinsey, Jonah Dover, OH | Hilton Head Island, SC | Las Vegas, NV Cell: +1 330.432.3533 ©2008 LLC. All rights reserved.
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