Assumptions are Guesses Disguised as Facts

You know there is an age old saying, “When you assume, you make a ssume”. I assume they just mispelled Tsum Tsum

I was never partial to the original interpretation. Taken at face value it’s both insulting and a little misleading. I think the same logic breaks down with other words.

Why doesn’t a legume make a leg out of you and me?

Often it is difficult to understand why things do not add up the way we expect them to. In the book I am currently reading, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, one of the greatest reasons for success is the notion of challenging assumptions. It can very easily seem like this project you’ve spent days or years on is heading in the right direction based on assumptions.

Assumptions can play an important role in our understanding of the unknown by connecting dots where we don’t have any. It can give us an outline of the bigger picture but that picture is about as grainy as a VHS or worse.

Sure, back in the 80’s we weren’t sure if Robert De Niro had a mole on his face or a pet fly living on his cheek. We assumed it was a mole until DVDs came around and cleared up some assumptions. Then we moved into high definition and now 4k and there really is no hiding. Every assumption gets cleared up with more information.

Adam Grant discusses the failure of Segway being attributed to not challenging assumptions. The Segway was to be the next big invention since, I don’t know, walking? The issues they faced were laws on where they could be used and how they could be used. While the technology is a wonder they assumed too much about how, where, and by who it would be used by.

Being an external observer to our clients when we begin allows us to easily challenge assumptions. By doing so, we help bring that fuzzy picture into focus and see what really is going on. Ideally you will continually challenge your business assumptions for the same reason.

It’s not always easy to spot an assumption. They lurk in the details. If one plus one equals two, how come won plus won does not? Spoken, the difference could be negligible and go completely unnoticed.

By challenging the assumption of what we think things mean we may discover they in fact mean something entirely different. You can only do that if you look at the same problems or solutions from a new angle.

Had we not challenged the Sun rotating around us or the Earth being flat, the World we live in today would be much different.

What is one thing in your business right now you assume to be successful? What is working and what are your assumptions about why it is working?

If there is any other second or third possible reason for this success, it’s worth looking into. Consider that you’ve suddenly started getting more traffic to your business and you’ve recently started using Twitter. It can be assumed that Twitter is the reason for this. But what if your customers use Instagram and it’s going viral or word of mouth is stronger than you thought?

Only by knowing would you know to invest more in these avenues and less in others that you assume are the reason for success. By quashing assumptions you become more focussed and more efficient in your efforts that work.

April 6, 2017
Posted on 
Author photo in a circle
Kyle Lincoln

Kyle is a logo crafter, avid reader, and writer. His experience expands across a wide spectrum of clients such as Nandos, Shaw Business, and Destination Canada. Growing up, it didn’t take him long to go from doodles to design. Kyle’s previous work in identities for conferences and events left him longing for something more enduring. He’s got a vested interest in helping businesses thrive and an eye for brand incongruences. In Vancouver he can be found scoping out his client’s location and/or the nearest gelateria and is always up to discuss your project or favourite flavour.

You know there is an age old saying, “When you assume, you make a ssume”. I assume they just mispelled Tsum Tsum

I was never partial to the original interpretation. Taken at face value it’s both insulting and a little misleading. I think the same logic breaks down with other words.

Why doesn’t a legume make a leg out of you and me?

Often it is difficult to understand why things do not add up the way we expect them to. In the book I am currently reading, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, one of the greatest reasons for success is the notion of challenging assumptions. It can very easily seem like this project you’ve spent days or years on is heading in the right direction based on assumptions.

Assumptions can play an important role in our understanding of the unknown by connecting dots where we don’t have any. It can give us an outline of the bigger picture but that picture is about as grainy as a VHS or worse.

Sure, back in the 80’s we weren’t sure if Robert De Niro had a mole on his face or a pet fly living on his cheek. We assumed it was a mole until DVDs came around and cleared up some assumptions. Then we moved into high definition and now 4k and there really is no hiding. Every assumption gets cleared up with more information.

Adam Grant discusses the failure of Segway being attributed to not challenging assumptions. The Segway was to be the next big invention since, I don’t know, walking? The issues they faced were laws on where they could be used and how they could be used. While the technology is a wonder they assumed too much about how, where, and by who it would be used by.

Being an external observer to our clients when we begin allows us to easily challenge assumptions. By doing so, we help bring that fuzzy picture into focus and see what really is going on. Ideally you will continually challenge your business assumptions for the same reason.

It’s not always easy to spot an assumption. They lurk in the details. If one plus one equals two, how come won plus won does not? Spoken, the difference could be negligible and go completely unnoticed.

By challenging the assumption of what we think things mean we may discover they in fact mean something entirely different. You can only do that if you look at the same problems or solutions from a new angle.

Had we not challenged the Sun rotating around us or the Earth being flat, the World we live in today would be much different.

What is one thing in your business right now you assume to be successful? What is working and what are your assumptions about why it is working?

If there is any other second or third possible reason for this success, it’s worth looking into. Consider that you’ve suddenly started getting more traffic to your business and you’ve recently started using Twitter. It can be assumed that Twitter is the reason for this. But what if your customers use Instagram and it’s going viral or word of mouth is stronger than you thought?

Only by knowing would you know to invest more in these avenues and less in others that you assume are the reason for success. By quashing assumptions you become more focussed and more efficient in your efforts that work.

April 6, 2017
Posted on 
Author photo in a circle
Kyle Lincoln

Kyle is a logo crafter, avid reader, and writer. His experience expands across a wide spectrum of clients such as Nandos, Shaw Business, and Destination Canada. Growing up, it didn’t take him long to go from doodles to design. Kyle’s previous work in identities for conferences and events left him longing for something more enduring. He’s got a vested interest in helping businesses thrive and an eye for brand incongruences. In Vancouver he can be found scoping out his client’s location and/or the nearest gelateria and is always up to discuss your project or favourite flavour.

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