“Everything must be taken into account. If the fact will not fit the theory – let the theory go.” – Agatha Christie
Here we are again. It’s a new year, so that must mean it’s time to make some kind of big declaration about how this year will be different. We’re going to do some particular thing better, or not do some particular thing at all, and it will make all the difference. And maybe we will. Or maybe we won’t.
Obviously, a lot of the decisions we make or initiatives we take on at the beginning of a new year (or any other time, for that matter), are based on assumptions. We assume certain things to be true about our customers, or our products, or our people, or our competitors, and we make decisions accordingly. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that quite often, those assumptions are wrong, sometimes horribly so.
I get that no one has a perfectly clear view of the future, and sometimes we will make assumptions that turn out to be incorrect. But too often, we base our decision-making on assumptions without really challenging those assumptions. We quite often make the “easy” assumption and then act accordingly.
Think about your plans for 2023. What assumptions are you making as you get ready to implement those plans? What are you assuming about your markets? Your customers? Technology? Write those assumptions down on a sheet of paper.
Now look at each one and ask yourself: Why am I making this assumption? What am I basing this on? Is there some data or knowledge I’m using? Or is it just that we’ve been making this same assumption for the last twenty years? Or is it just that it’s easier to go with assumption X than to really go through the effort of developing assumption Y?
The point of all of this is to say that you have to challenge your assumptions on a regular basis. It’s easy as leaders to be so busy doing stuff that we don’t spend enough time thinking big. Our mindsets can become obsolete because we just don’t take enough time to update them.
If you’re going to make some kind of resolution for 2023, try this: Make a point to challenge the assumptions of yourself and your team. Make sure that your educated guesses really are educated and not lazy or disconnected from reality. Make it the year of thinking – and acting – in a whole new way.