When we are face with a challenging situation, it is important that we pay attention to any assumptions that we are carrying around with us that might interfere with our ability to deal directly with what is actually going on.
Think of how RIM would have responded to the changes in the cell phone market had it been able to challenge its assumptions about its own history. What would Intel have done differently had it been willing to challenge its assumptions about its place in the market?
What are our own assumptions that we adhere to in times of stress or difficulty?
What would be the benefit of breaking those assumptions as soon as they come up?
Unless you have been blessed with the gift of fortune telling, you don’t actually know how something will turn out. You can certainly have biases for situations and you might even be able to recognize patterns which help you to see how a situation is evolving, but the assumptions we hold are usually only going to keep us from seeing what is right in front of us.
How can we tell?
One warning flag that should always be raised in a leadership meeting is any statement that is an absolute.
“That will never happen.”
“No one can compete with this.”
“They will never listen.”
“This is bad news.”
Any statement that assumes an absolute understanding of intentions, outcomes or abilities is inherently ignorant.
(And ignorance is bad.)
The only way to be on the vanguard within your business is to question the assumptions you and your team are making about your own company, the market you are in and the competition’s abilities. Holding hard to those assumptions is usually lazy thinking and can be the difference between continued success or sudden failure.
Become aware of those blanket, absolute statements in your own language and in the language of your leadership team. Find a way to challenge them and to break them apart.
Once you are free from assumptions, then anything is possible.