Epiphanies for Everybody

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Hidden Assumptions

March 06, 20221 min read

Hidden Assumptions

One of the single most helpful things anybody can do for a group of people (ie a system), is help expose the underlying assumptions that drive the system.

Just recently, I was advising a friend who works with a client in the legal field. They have all the normal challenges of a large organisation, but one of their key assumptions seems to be that keeping individuals as busy as possible results in delivering the most work. Maximising billable time is a pretty normal legal metric, so it makes sense that this would be built into the building blocks of the company. But putting aside, for a minute, that ‘delivering the most work’ is a terrible metric, the belief that maximising the output of individuals equates maximising output from the system is provably false. Which means any processes or organisational structures that are underpinned by that assumption will also be provably false. Unless the client can see that, however, any suggestions that require approaching the problem with a different belief will ultimately fail.

Until we can see, confront, and understand our assumptions, we cannot change. And if we cannot change, we cannot improve.

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