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Assumption hunters, a new consulting business?
March 5, 2008 | CultureBy | Grant McCracken.

What is the most vexing problem in management today?

Next to setting our objectives, running a tight ship and meeting our numbers, I would argue that it’s watching out for the blind side hit.

By blind side hit, I mean the kind of thing that Google did to Microsoft, that Barak did to Hillary, that hip hop did to Levi-Strauss, that Snapple did to Coca-Cola.

Watching for blind side hits is difficult because it means knowing our assumptions. And this is hard because assumptions are not for knowing, they are for making.
........The trouble with assumptions is that they are by definition invisible from view. (That’s why we call them "unknown unknowns.") We hold ideas about the world without full awareness of what these ideas are or how they make us vulnerable. .......So what to do. How about, for starters, this three step "assumption hunting" process?

1) ferret out the assumptions. Hire someone to go through the operation of daily business and capture every assumption. Philosophers are quite good at this. Anthropologists are very good at it. This is after all the way they study culture, which is, by and large, a set of assumptions that helps us think and act fluidly precisely because we don’t know we are making them.

2) identify the parts of the world that could present challenges. Figure out just what the challenge is and when and how it will "come ashore." [JCK: this is an echo of Chris Hadfield's advice, "** “Become experts on the thing that is threatening you,”]

3) Keep watch with a big board. In effect, what we are doing is "sunsetting" our assumptions with a view to discovery when they reach they end of their useful lives.
anthropologists  anthropology  assumptions  blind_spots  blindsided  challenges  expertise  experts  information_gaps  management_consulting  philosophers  the_big_picture  uncertainty  unknowns 
december 2010 by jerryking
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