This week I noticed something. I noticed that some people have made assumptions about their business that were fine when they made them but are now bumping up against a new reality. They’ve made assumptions about what things cost, how things are going to be delivered, and how they are going to profitably serve their clients. They’ve also made agreements that guarantee their performance.
These people are now dealing with the challenge of discovering that their assumptions are no longer valid. Their cost structures have changed. The way their clients want things delivered has changed. And they can no longer make the guarantees that were once easily kept.
These people, and many of the people who work for and with them, very much want things to remain the way they were. They want their assumptions to be true forever. But wanting something doesn’t make it so. To survive, they have to change. To thrive, they really have to change.
My Own Faulty Assumptions
For the last few months I’ve had very serious heart palpitations. Because there is no greater doctor than Dr. Google, I diagnosed myself with mitral valve prolapse. Then I went to see a real cardiologist. The cardiologist took one look at me and said, “I don’t think you have a heart condition. How much coffee do you drink.” I answered, “How much is there?” He said, “I thought so.” I told him I drink a couple large, black coffees from Starbucks every day. He was horrified, and he shared with me how much caffeine I am ingesting.
Then he moved on to my diet. He asked if I eat spicy food. I told him that I only eat spicy food, and if it isn’t spicy, I’ll add whatever is necessary to make it that way. He said, “We’ll do an echo, but I am positive you don’t heart condition.”
The echo came back perfect, as my cardiologist anticipated. Up until this point in my life, I’ve lived with a set of assumptions that said I could drink coffee day and night with no problems, and my iron stomach could withstand the spiciest of all foods. Regretfully, eliminating the heart palpitations (my body’s way of warning me I am creating problems) means making a new and different set of assumptions.
Your Faulty Assumptions
Maybe you assume that lead generation, demand generation, and inbound marketing is going to produce enough leads for you, even though the evidence is to the contrary.
Maybe you assume that by asking certain questions you can ensure that you have an accurate sales forecast, even though you are always significantly over or under your best guesses.
Maybe you have a set of assumptions about what your clients want from you, even though the evidence of few opportunities, shrinking wallet share, and lost deals indicates that your assumptions are no longer valid.
What is the new reality you are now facing? What assumptions have you made that are no longer serving you? In this Disruptive Age, your assumptions aren’t going to last as long as they did in the past. Your assumptions are going to have a shorter and shorter half life, and you are going to have to be prepared to jettison them for new assumptions more frequently.
Go into this week with your eyes wide open and looking for new truths (as temporary and fleeting as they may be).
Do good work, and I’ll see you here next week.