Have you taken a good hard look at your assumptions lately?  Or are you still making decisions, developing strategies, and designing programs based on assumptions that really are no longer accurate?  And how would you even know whether your assumptions are based on long gone ideas?

I’m still finding The Leader of the Future 2 to be a fabulous resource.  This morning I read the article by General Eric K. Shinseki, whose 38 year career featured a long list of impressive assignments.  Think about the constant testing of assumptions that are rolled up in the strategies developed by the armed forces.  Think they rest on what worked yesterday?  I particularly loved this line:

"One consistent lesson that came out of twentieth-century history is that the assumptions of one decade rarely carried over into the next."

Now, you can think what you will about the armed forces…but this line has some very serious implications for all of us.  After all, how many of us are operating based on assumptions that were developed decades ago (if not a century or more).

Here’s a challenge: take some time to think about why your programs are designed the way they are.  Be sure and ask the question: are they working the way they need to?  Then give some thought to who your programs are designed to reach.  Here’s a question: Are you actually targeting a customer niche that no longer exists?  If it does still exist, how big is it?  Could you defend your assumptions successfully if failure wasn’t an option?  If the return on investment was really going to be examined and you were going to be held accountable?

For most of us, these are not idle questions.  There really will be an accounting you know.  So, what happens if you ask yourself these questions and don’t come up with good answers?  That’s something for another post.  But I wouldn’t just tuck this one into the back of your mind.

The Importance of Reviewing Assumptions