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Assumptions

Assumptions helps analysts and teams question their pre-existing mental model and to make explicit the underlying hypotheses of the analysis.

Uses of the method

  • Identifying gaps to be closed in the analysis
  • Developing further areas for research
  • Creating scenarios based on the most uncertain assumptions

Benefits

  • Identify key assumptions
  • Improve understanding
  • Gain new perspective and take different vantage points
  • Spot change that would cause previous assumptions to be invalidated
  • Reduce surprise

 Disadvantages

  • Existing beliefs, myths and existing paradigms cloud judgment
  • Experience and knowledge of the individual or team are insufficient

 Steps to complete

  • Create an initial list of assumptions from the analysis produced so far.
  • Note keywords and examine each for inherent key assumptions. Try to replace key words with a synonym and see if the statement of meaning changes. If it does, modify the list and add more as fresh connections and gaps in the analysis are noticed. 
  • Then review each assumption:
    • Is this assumption considered correct?
    • How might this assumption eventually be proved untrue?
    • Is this assumption likely to be valid in the future?
    • What would be the impact if it became invalid?
    • Find ways you can make the assumption come true
  • Rank and sort each assumption as 'key' 'sound', 'reserved', 'questionable'
  • Remove assumptions that are irrelevant or considered false
  • Re-state the issue if necessary to change its boundaries to better fit your new analysis.
  • Add new assumptions that arise from this process
  • Determine the fixed elements (almost certain hard trends) that will inform your strategic response: slow-changing phenomena e.g. demographic shifts, constrained situations e.g. resource limits, in the pipeline e.g. aging of baby boomers, inevitable collisions e.g. climate change arguments.
  • Capture critical variables i.e. uncertainties, soft trends and potential surprises. Both these and the fixed elements will be key to creating scenarios and examining potential future paradigm shifts.
  • Capture unique insight into new ways of seeing that can be utilized by the organization.
  • State alternative hypotheses drawn with different assumptions and judgments.
  • Determine if key uncertainties should require further Insights research, the creation of briefing document or inclusion in a scenario exercise.
  • Consider what factors would likely change your mind through receipt of new information.
  • Determine which factors could surprise and alter your judgment and the direction of the outcome.
  • What conclusions can we draw from the exercise(s)?
    • How might the future be different?
    • How does A affect B?
    • What is likely to remain the same or change significantly?
    • What are the likely outcomes?
    • What and who will likely shape our future?
    • Where could we be most affected by change?
    • What might we do about it?
    • What don't we know that we need to know?
    • What should we do now, today?
    • Why do we care?
    • When should we aim to meet on this?

Collaboration
This method and your response can be shared with other members or kept private using the 'Privacy' field and through the 'Tag', 'Report' and 'Forum' functionalities. Use 'Tag' and/or 'Report' to aggregate your analyzes, or add a 'Forum' to ask others where they agree/disagree and encourage them to make their own analysis from their unique vantage point.

Click the 'Invite tab to send invitations to other members or non-members (colleagues, external experts etc.) to ask for their input. You can whether or not you want anonymous responses.  These can be viewed and exported within the Responses tab.

Further reference

Contact us
Even with all the advice and tools we have provided here starting a foresight project from scratch can be a daunting prospect to a beginner. Let us know if you need help with this method or want a group facilitation exercise or full project or program carrying out by us. We promise to leave behind more internal knowledgeable people who can expand your initiative for better organizational performance.

Contact us today for a free discussion on your needs.

Are there other enhancements or new methods you would like to see here? Let us know and we will do our best to respond with a solution quickly.

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