Most of the time, our thinking process happens linearly. In other words, it means that we use the logic of “cause and consequence” to think.
Like a story, for example, “the glass fell on the floor, and because of that, the glass broke… because the glass broke, she got mad at him. Because she got mad at him, she canceled the dinner..”. It keeps going like this. Because of this, then that, because of that, then this… cause and consequence.
Of course, we are not aware of this happening in our minds but pay just a little bit of attention, and you will see it happening all the time.
But anyway, what it has to do with creating innovation and diminishing problems and conflicts in a company?
Well, it tells us about the greatest enemy of creativity, innovation, and harmony: assumptions.
Why assuming is an enemy of innovation
We can picture a linear thought like many boxes in a line connected side by side.
And when our mind receives information, we fill in each box with content. The matter is that most of the time we can’t fill all the boxes at once. Not only because there are infinite boxes, but because one will always lead to the next.
So, what do we do with the boxes that are missing content inside? We fill it anyway.
And here is the dangerous part that we call assumptions. You divide the information you heard to fill in the boxes, and you build something in between that makes sense to yourself.
Ok, but what’s wrong with that?
The problem is that we can only create assumptions from the memory we have collected so far. We can only assume based on our previous experiences: situations we faced, results we heard, things we ever imagined, and information we had access to.
We are not able to assume things based on things we never knew or touched before. We keep repeating in our minds the same story, again and again, limiting possibilities to move from where we are in business or life.
That’s why assumptions are the most dangerous enemies of alignment, creativity, innovation, and harmony for a company.
Don’t confuse assuming with making connections. Connecting thoughts means to link two or more ideas or information to generate something new. Assuming is filling blanks with no proven information based on previous experiences disconnected from the current one.
3 problems on trusting assumptions
Going blindly in the wrong direction
The first problem with trusting assumptions is that the human mind needs to justify everything to feel safe. So, it doesn’t matter if the answer we assume is right or wrong. Just the fact we inserted an answer gives us a feeling of control and safety. That’s the reason why we make assumptions.
Losing opportunities of different new and fresh perspectives
The second problem with assumption is that we assume that everyone perceives things the same way we do. That they feel, judge, and think the same way we do. A perspective that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Wasting energy on unnecessary reactions
The third problem is a consequence of the first and second mistakes: we think our assumptions are true! And because of that, we react to it. That’s why making assumptions and acting based on them is almost the same as creating problems and conflict. If you stop to reflect a bit, you can notice that most of the suffering and drama in our lives come from assumptions. The same principle works for organizations.
How to move towards innovation and fight a culture of stagnation
Questioning is the greatest weapon against assumptions!
When we understand that by letting the boxes not filled, open to not knowing, we have much more to gain and lose to avoid, instead of just assuming to have a false sense of safety, we are ready to make progress by making questions!
In business and brands which want to transform and innovate, questioning helps:
- To see things from a new perspective.
- to generate expansion, different from assumptions that limit the possibilities.
- to review how things are done and why they are done in that specific way.
- to create space for conversations, cleaning the fog in discussions, and generating new ideas.
Companies that are brave enough to sow and stimulate and create a culture of questioning and curiosity are the ones who will harvest aligned teamwork and a pool of ideas and innovation.
What is your perspective on this topic? Share your insights in the comments 🙂