By challenging assumptions every day we get better at it. This makes us better problem solvers. At times though it’s hard to find the assumptions. They hide. Yet, one tip makes it much easier to see them. We’ll challenge assumptions like a pro.
Before disclosing the tip however, here’s a warning. The tip has a trap. The trap makes one forget to use the tip. The tip won’t work then.
Easiest Tip To Challenge Assumptions Like A Pro
There’s not much to the tip, so here it is:
- Look for the question about the problem.
- Ask “Is this the right question?”
- If “yes,” repeat Step #2.
- If “no,” answer the better question.
Very simply, you’re challenging the assumption that the question is the right one.
The Trap Behind The Easiest Tip
People are trained to answer the question. That’s the trap.
Our public speaking teacher taught us to do that in the Q and A parts of our talks. Attorneys tell witnesses to do it too. People complain when politicians don’t answer the question. We think those who don’t answer the question might be hiding something.
It’s psychological too, called anchoring. It’s seizing on the first piece of information to think and decide. Here, the question about the problem is the anchor. It frames how one sees the problem. It’s thinking inside the box.
Examples Using Tip To Challenge Assumptions
It’s very easy to get trapped. For example, a call center successfully answered salespeople’s question about a new software. Yet, it scored poorly in user surveys.
In short, the call center staff was not making sure they were answering the right questions. So, rather than answer the question outright, we trained the staff to ask, “What are you trying to do?”
As another example, a consultant had a very successful change process. At its core was moving clients to a consensus about the change. Clients were 90% successful when they did this. However, only 15% of his clients could achieve this.
So, he asked, “What could he do to move more clients to consensus?” The real question though could be, “What other processes could help clients achieve change?” Perhaps, consensus decision making did not fit the other clients’ cultures. Why try to sell peanuts to those allergic to them?
This second example shows just how easy it is to get trapped. Consensus has a great buzz. Why challenge it? It’s these kind of thoughts that box us in, trap us.
Thus, an easy tip to challenge assumptions like a pro is to look for the question. It’s often ends with a “?”. Then, challenge it. Don’t get boxed in. Be a pro.
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