Assumptions and Known Quantities

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Solving Problems – Abstracted logical thinking: Fact or Fiction?

What we’re talking about is nothing new. The goal here is to develop our innate diagnostic skills by better understanding assumptions and known quantities. We need to become “the doctor” complete with a theoretical clipboard and stethoscope. The idea is to deal not only with facts or known quantities; we need to understand the difference between proven fact and the perception of a concept without proven fact  – an assumption that may lead to an inference of some kind. The biggest problem facing the timely resolution of an issue is often the dreaded “assumption”.

We need to be sensitive to our audience and its needs when investigating an issue. Some assumptions come from beliefs, fear, pride, and intuition. Other assumptions simply stem from misinformation. An assumption can be tied into quite an emotive and what may seem irrational train of thought. Dismissing an assumption can be detrimental in many ways; some quite psychological based – relating to feelings of validation and so on. Dismissing an assumption can lead to a lower level of interest from others who may be in a key position to help solve an underlying problem. We need to understand that an assumption can be quite helpful if it is treated accordingly:

An assumption is not proven and could be incorrect. Regardless, an assumption represents a point of view that could be shared by many and it may or may not be relevant to the situation at hand.

It is important to capture and identify (bag and tag) assumptions throughout the problem solving process. An assumption could be 100% correct without a hint of evidence. Often, an assumption holds the key to unlocking a known quantity, and it is only though the thorough testing of an assumption that we are then able to deduce a qualified known quantity.

Treat assumptions with the utmost respect and be sure to effectively capture assumptions and known quantities – don’t just assume an assumption is incorrect!

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