There are many moments in our business where we presuppose things. Oftentimes, what we thought is not exactly what’s happening. This is what assumption is. We go off thinking a solution that might not even be for the problem at hand. Presupposing certain assumptions could ruin your business. Avoid the cost of assumptions and learn some steps that will help you ask and solve the right questions.
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The Cost Of Assumptions
I’m going to drop a couple nuggets that not only will grow business, but they’ll help grow businesses forever. The title is The Cost of Assumptions. I was sitting at my desk in Minooka, Illinois, southwest of Chicago. I was working from 5:30 in the morning to noon and all of a sudden I began reading a couple of texts and talking to a couple of our department heads. It was right around 11:50 AM and I said, “I need to go to Pennsylvania. I need to get to the office right now.” I called Kerri and said, “Can you come on downstairs?” I talked to her a little bit about something and she’s like, “Get on a plane.”
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I’m at least an hour from O’Hare Airport. At noon we found a 1:50 PM flight, which would give me an hour’s drive, assuming I could pack a bag real fast. An hour’s drive would give me 40 minutes roughly to park the car, check in, get to the thing, and board a plane. At 1:50 PM that day, I was airborne and I landed in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. From 5:00 PM Eastern to 9:00 PM Eastern, over a four-hour period, I was sitting around a campfire with a couple of our department heads. I was shown how six to nine to twelve months’ worth of assumptions that I had about how a couple of our divisions were running, how we were producing things and evaluating things, and what we were doing. All of these ideas I had in my head, I was shown not only was I wrong, I was off by 180 degrees. I wasn’t even close.
There was a statement where about a third of the way into this conversation, I said, “I’m assuming if we go out and acquire these assets by this type of company right here and hire a dozen people specifically for this division, we are smooth sailing from here on out.” Both of these guys, at the exact same time, in a fairly loud voice leaned forward and said, “No.” I sat back and said, “We need to start all over again because I am drastically missing something.” They both said at the same time, “Yes, you are.”
The point of this episode is that there is a severe cost that our company had paid because I had presupposed certain assumptions about how certain things were run. I spent the night at the Marriott in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and I woke up the next morning so refreshed and alive because I knew right now the challenge was I was not asking the right questions often enough. Some of the questions that I vowed to ask these folks, and I will never miss this on a monthly basis, are the following. Number one, are there any obstacles I can currently remove for you? These are department heads, so for their division, are there any obstacles you’re faced with? Do you need an employee? Do you need us to acquire a digital asset? Do you need us to buy a smaller company to help? What do you need? Are there any obstacles in your way that I could remove for you?
There is a cost that you have to pay for assuming. Click To Tweet
Number two, are there any questions I’m not asking that I should be asking? That is a very important question and it’s got to be stated on a monthly basis. If you’re the head of a division, you need to go to your people and say, “Are there any questions I should be asking?” I promise you, if you run a decent-sized division, it is going to be a unanimous, “Yes. You might want to ask us how this is going or how this person’s doing or how this client is behaving.” If you don’t give the open floor for them to talk and speak on that type of plane, they’re just going to hold things in because you’re not asking. They’re going to think that they need to go and keep doing what they’re doing because you’re not asking the right question.
Number one, what obstacles can I eliminate? Number two, what questions should I be asking? If you ask those two questions, I believe you will at least reduce drastically, if not even eliminate, the cost you’ll have to pay as a leader for assuming things you should never assume. Switch your assumptions to questions. I hope this helps. Take care.