Wrong Assumptions?

When undertaking any form of planning for the future, whether strategic planning, scenario planning, or even environmental scanning, we need to be aware of our assumptions. We need to be aware of our biases.

There’s a story about two European shoe salesmen sent to different parts of a remote
part of Africa to study sales potential. The first reported back that since no one wore shoes, there was zero sales potential. The second reported that since no one wore shoes, the potential was infinite. Both salesman had the same facts, but both viewed the data differently. There interpretations were quite different.

With their different assumptions about why the market conditions were as they were, their conclusions were wildly different.

Are your assumptions right, is your frame of reference the only one that counts, what biases do you bring to the table?

So, what are the range of potential biases that you can have:

  • availability bias: how do recent events impact your responses?
  • framing bias: do you always look at a situation “through the same window frame”?
  • hindsight bias: “I knew it all along” with respect to our previous (wrong) predictions
  • confirmation bias: we only remember the times when we were right

The “anti-dote” for this is to be aware of your limitations. To be aware of how you view things. To understand what your perspective is.

Although its trite, which one of the three outlooks do you see yourself fitting in well with?

“Is the glass half empty, half full, or twice as large as it needs to be?

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