Are your assumptions holding you back?

Tom Barrett
4 min readOct 21, 2022

Too often, we take the status quo for granted and don’t challenge our assumptions about the world around us. This can lead to stagnation and a lack of innovation.

Let’s explore why assumptions exist, the tensions in our teams and how data helps challenge conventional decision-making.

Assumptions are windows

An assumption is something that is taken for granted. It is an idea or concept that is accepted without proof.

Pause for a moment and reflect on what you take for granted in your school or organisation.

We make assumptions all the time when we are trying to understand and assess a situation. They allow us to simplify things and make decisions quickly.

Making assumptions allows us to work more efficiently in teams by saving time that would otherwise be spent re-establishing why our work is important or what process we are using.

It is important to be aware of assumptions because they also lead us astray. If we make assumptions based on faulty information, we may come to the wrong conclusion. When we are trying to communicate with someone, it is essential to understand what assumptions they are making.

Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in. ~ Alan Aida

Assumptions can turn into conventions, which can morph into a bias. The actor Alan Aida describes your assumptions as windows that might alter what you see. A muddy lens that needs cleaning.

The how >< why tension

We need to dig deeper into the root cause to challenge assumptions and clean the windows. But, tension exists in our teams between the how and the why question.

People in a ‘ how do we do this ‘ mindset are content with taking things at face value. They want to move ahead, comfortable with a set of pre-determined agreements, long-held rules or conventional steps.

Those with a ‘ why are we doing this ‘ disposition explore the fundamental drivers below the surface. They question why things are the way they are and…



Tom Barrett

Re-discover the curiosity you had when you were 6. Learning, Leadership, Innovation. Join Medium to support my writing << Affiliate link