Every problem – regardless of its size or simplicity – comes up with an attached list of assumptions. Many times, assumptions are imprecise and make the problem statement erroneous.
To effectively deal with assumptions, the first step is to write them down and the second step is to make sure that most obvious and safe assumptions are not left over.
The key here is to get everything out on the paper from your head as it just helps you visualize the bigger picture with multidimensional views.
Once you’ve got everything out of your head, just loop through the list, take an assumption and validate it against the problem statement. Here’s a 5 step approach to deal with the select assumption.
- Analyze – Think inside the box. Connect with the obvious. Consider the consequences of the selected assumption. Consider how it relates to the problem in the traditional ways. Take the left side of your brain on a ride.
- Pause – Take a deep breath. Record your analysis and then disconnect with the obvious for a while.
- Un-analyze – Think outside of the box. Connect with the unobvious. Consider different ways to look at the assumption. Maybe this is one of the many possible ways to deal with a problem. Is the selected assumption necessary at all? Is anything else out there which is being missed? Take the right side of your brain on a ride.
- Pause – Take two deep breaths. Record your un-analysis and then disconnect with the unobvious also.
- Reanalyze – Review your analysis and un-analysis. Consider the obvious and unobvious. Consider both of them with attention. Which one way seems a more appropriate way than the other to proceed?
This process brings necessary clarity to the problem. Many times, the un-analysis part brings forth surprising results which are not thought of otherwise.
For example, suppose you’re about to enter a website development business. One of your assumptions might be to have a huge list of service offerings – like most of other such companies do.
While such assumption may seem appropriate at first, try challenging it and maybe you’ll find some interesting business models – such as a “Make your own Pizza” kind of web design firm in which their customers bring ideas for the web-architects to craft and build upon – something which matters to the customers.
Power Questions: When you deal with a problem, do you attack it with the power of un-analysis also? If not, can you, now?