Our assumptions get in the way of communicating

Whether you’re a key executive at a bank, a team member in a startup or a product creator in an agency, the number one cause of problems is that we make unvalidated assumptions.

We make assumptions on what people want, what people think, what we think people do and how we think they will react to things.

We assume that our team members are X, that our boss thinks Y and that our investors would do Z. We assume we know what’s best for people.

We don’t check our assumptions and we continue working assuming that they *are* true leading to wasted time. Often they aren’t true and we create things (products, processes, memos) that nobody wants, needs or likes.

Whether you’re building a new startup, communicating within a team or preparing a report for your boss, check your assumptions.

First, recognise which assumptions you’ve been making and then validate them.

If we must make assumptions then the best one to make is “I assume all of my assumptions are wrong”.

To paraphrase Whitney Hess: the answers are not at your desk, go out there and meet people and validate your assumptions before you act.

Phil Smithson