October 25, 2018

Testing our assumptions to rise above disruption 

The one of many characteristics that makes us humans is the natural tendency to make assumptions. We tend to draw conclusions and understand certain situations purely from the patterns of our past experiences, usually without looking beyond those assumptions.  

In a business context, making assumptions are no exceptions. We make assumptions towards our own work, our colleagues, our customers and so on. Assuming based off our past experiences of similar situations are the most practical way for our minds to process the rapidly changing world around us. Usually, those assumptions in our minds are made without any solid evidence. 


Why is it important to test our assumptions for our business success? 

There is a negative connotation attached to making assumptions that we are all aware of. It is clear that with no validation or evidence, assumptions come off as illogical. The only way we can avoid assuming is if we reset our minds to completely ignore all our past experiences when we face different kinds of situations. 

However, refreshing our minds to every situation is mentally exhausting and is seemingly unrealistic. When we make assumptions, we do it subconsciously and do not even realize we are doing it. And for that reason, testing our assumptions. Among the one reason, other reasons to test our assumptions are as follows. 

Assumptions can act as constraints in our minds. 

There is a certain degree of negativity that is attached to assuming. In its own right, the negative connotation to assumptions have some truth. It has the power that can stop us at our tracks and hinder us, and even our businesses, from moving forward. 

It is not to say that all assumptions are wrong and invalid, rather, the fact is that our assumptions may or may not be true or relevant, and we will never know for sure if we stop right at just assuming. In a world that is constantly moving and disruption happening in all directions, this constraint could very well hinder us from success and be the reason you may be among the disrupted. 

Testing our assumptions can open up new insights regarding ourselves and our businesses.  

The new insight can mean new opportunities or even new perspectives that you may have otherwise overlooked. That new insight can mean access to new opportunities or perspectives and they can be just what our business may need to achieve further success.  

Unfortunately, testing assumptions does not immediately mean yielding all positive results. In some cases, the results of testing those assumptions can be unexpected and disappointing, leading you to believe you have failed and wasted your time. 

On the contrary, as Tom Peters, a renowned American Business Management writer, has said: “Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast.” Without testing your assumptions, you will never be able to know what the outcome would be, and if you do not know, you will constantly be troubled with the thoughts of ‘what ifs’. 


Enter the discomfort zone: The testing ground for our assumptions 

No matter what the direct outcome is, testing your assumptions will somehow lead to future success. Despite failure, you will always learn something valuable from testing those assumptions, which will ultimately contribute to your organizational development. 

In order to test our assumptions, we must be ready to venture into the discomfort zone. The steps to success are not straight-forward. Ultimately, our assumptions can sometimes be seen as roadblocks. Along the way, obstacles and downfalls can test great leaders. But like every obstacle, there is ways to learn from them and overcome them.  

By venturing into the discomfort zone and testing those assumptions, you allow yourself to be free of ‘what ifs’, open up a whole new world for you and your organization, and have the readiness to rise above the disruption.