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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Suspend Your Assumptions...

You know, many of us think, when we're not really thinking, that we can do it all ourselves and we really don't need help or input from others, like our team.

In reality, we know that's just not true. We need dialogue, we need brainstorming, we need dynamic conversation in order to often come up with the most robust solution to an issue, problem, or project.

Problem is, when we think we already know the answers or that our guesses are better than anyone else's thoughts, we can stop listening. When we stop listening, our solutions can be very limited because we're missing out on potentially great input from others.

We have to be confident and open enough to entertain to possiblity that our personal ideas are incorrect or imperfect. Peter Senge, in his book, "The Fifth Discipline", writes about suspending our assumptions.

When we "suspend" our assumptions, we're not throwing them out or saying that they're wrong. We're just admitting that it's possible a colleague might have an even better solution to the problem or project and that could to the BEST solution for everyone.

So what if our idea isn't the best? Is having a great result all about us? Or is it about the team, about the organization...maybe about the customer?

Suspending our assumptions temporarily allows us to actively listen and explore many more possibilities than we may have ever imagined.

Have you ever seen where your assumptions or the assumptions of your boss or one of your team members got in the way of a potentially better solution than the forerunner? Have you ever seen where pushing assumptions has caused others to shut down? How hard do you think it is to suspend assumptions, just for a little while, until all the ideas have been given their due?

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