The Starting Point of
Innovation and Growth
Assumptions play a vital part in
Challenging assumptions means
questioning the everyday things you take for granted.
"The best assumption to have is that any commonly held belief is wrong,"
says Ken Olson, CEO of DEC.
The natural thing to do is the thing you have
always done. Every time you approach
problem you bring
your accumulated experience, knowledge and training to bear on it. But this
includes you accumulated assumptions and biases – conscious and unconscious.
The more experienced and expert you are, the more likely you are to assume
outcomes by extrapolating from the known facts and experiences to predict a
result. This mental baggage can prevent you from
accepting innovative ideas.
Problem Solving Strategies:
Creative Problem Solving
Turn Problems to Opportunities:
Sometimes the way you frame a problem contains
an assumption that prevents you from solving it. In Middle Ages the
definition of astronomy was the 'study of how the heavenly bodies move
around the Earth', i.e. the Earth was considered to be the centre of
universe which resulted in the chain of wrong explanations of various
phenomena. "Similar ideas exist in most businesses – assumptions that
underpin most strategies and decisions, and that are so fundamental that
they are never challenged," says
3 Levels of Your
Ask Searching Questions
requires an inquisitive mind. Unless you ask lots of
"Why?" and "What If"? questions, you won't generate creative
"To avoid this most common of creative errors, be sure to peek under all
carpets, including your own. Don't take anything for granted. Especially
looking at the world through more inquisitive eyes; try getting ideas in
motion; try asking the all-important: "Why?"
See what happens!" says Alexander Hiam.3
10 Commandments of Innovation
Challenge assumptions, ask "Why?" and "What If?"
Making conscious assumptions is a key tool of a
thinker. "No great
discovery is made without a bold guess,"
said Isaac Newton.
Assumptive thinking is not the same as guessing though.
Making an assumption is more like using a tentative step...
Managing assumptions is very important for
Managing assumptions include being able to
empathize, to understand
expectations, to sense the
unconscious constraints or rules that you or
others impose on situations, problems,
judgments, decisions, individuals,
teams, and organizations.
To be able
to manage assumptions also encompasses
challenging assumptions, being
imaginative and making
assumptions as tentative hypotheses to explore various possibilities,
and inviting others to explore these conscious assumptions, generate and
cross-pollinate ideas. In
entrepreneurial simulation games,
anticipation of possible challenges ahead is a form of conscious
Critical-thinking questions can be used to explore and manage
assumptions. Here are sample
▪ What are you assuming?
▪ How did you choose those assumptions?
▪ What could we assume instead?
Check Your Assumptions
A doctor in London had a brother in Manchester, who was a
lawyer. But the lawyer in Manchester did not have a brother in London who
was a doctor. Why?