The Sump of Assumptions
by Mitchell Ditkoff
Thomas Edison had a very simple way of conducting job interviews. He'd invite prospective employees to join him for soup in the company cafeteria. If they salted their soup before tasting it, the interview was over. Plain and simple. Given the nature of his work - where even a single stone unturned could mean the difference between the failure or success of a costly product - Edison could not afford to surround himself with people ruled by faulty assumptions,
Of all the roadblocks to innovation, assumptions are the worst. Invisible, insidious and habitual, THEY STOP US BEFORE WE EVEN START - the default position for those of us too consumed by our past to consider the future the way it really is: pure potentiality.
What is an assumption? Simply put, it's "taking something for granted". A "supposition." We do it all the time - although not always to our detriment. For example, if you leave your toothbrush in the bathroom at night, it's safe to assume that it will be there in the morning. Your assumption saves you lots of time searching for it in the kitchen or garage. Other assumptions, however, don't work out quite as well - despite the seeming evidence for their veracity. Many of our ancestors, for example, assumed the earth was flat. They had "proof." They saw it with their own eyes. But their so-called proof - their inaccurate interpretation of existing phenomena - was a far cry from reality. And it was precisely because of their faulty assumptions, that many of our ancestors missed out on the New World and all the fabulous beachfront property that came with it.
Think about it. If every ten years half of what scientists believe to be true is proven to be false, how much of what your decisions are based on is anything more than just a temporary - and not very elegant - arrangement of half-baked perceptions, flaky factoids, and loosely interpreted statistics?
Take a minute now to consiser what you may be assuming falsely. What conclusions have you drawn that prevent you from sailing new oceans? What beliefs are you bound by that are likely to be laughable three years from now? Are you absolutely sure you know what your customers want? Are you positive your manager won't free up the money to fund your latest idea? Can you say, without a shadow of a doubt, that your current strategy to accomplish your "stretch goal" is based on anything more than hearsay and hot talk?
But hey, you're not alone in your tendency to jump to conclusions. Join the club as you consider some of these (now famous) limiting assumptions throughout history:
What is your bigggest assumption about your hottest new idea?
What is your company's most pervasive, collective assumption?
What can you do today to identify the one assumption most likely to sabotage your future success? What can you do to go beyond it?
Top News & Offerings
Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Webinars Powered by
Idea Champions University
If you enjoy our blog, you will love our newly launched webinars! Our training is now accessible online to the whole world.
If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.
"In tune with corporate America." — CNN