When was the last time you made a business decision based on an assumption?
I’m not criticising you; in fact, as a business leader you probably find that you have to build assumptions into your calculations on a regular basis. Naturally, they’ll be based on an in depth understanding of current data. But until someone produces a crystal ball which is guaranteed to work, your strategy and future development plans will always have an element of assumption included within them.
But there are assumptions, those which are disguised as fact which can trip up the unwary. I was thinking about this when I read the results of some research which revealed that the great Fire of London didn’t actually start in Pudding Lane. Researcher Dorian Gerhold has uncovered documents which appear to prove that Thomas Farriner’s bakery was actually situated on what is now known as Monument Street. The difference is less than a hundred feet but it overturns something which generations have accepted as fact.
What has this to do with leadership and assumptions? Quite simply, as leaders we have a duty to ensure that our decisions and strategy are not skewed by assumptions disguised as fact. We may think that our employees are engaged, but do we really know; we may believe that our customers want certain products, but when was the last time we actually tried to find out; we may be convinced that we are delivering cutting-edge products, but do we really keep up with technological possibilities? What was business fact for one generation of leaders may no longer be true in a changing marketplace. It may only be a small change, but it could be one which has significant repercussions.