Henry Winkler said, “Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” Although I fully agree with “The Fonz,” I would go as far as to say that assumptions are the termites of life. And this is especially true in business.
How many decisions have we made based entirely on an assumption?
How many sales have we lost because we assumed a prospect wouldn’t be interested?
Have we lost potential investors because we assumed they couldn’t possibly be interested in our business?
How many products have never come to market because it was assumed that no one would purchase them?
The Webster’s online dictionary defines “assumptions” as “The act of taking for granted, or supposing a thing without proof.”
If there is no proof, we need challenge these assumptions. This is what innovative people and companies do every day, they challenge these proof-less assumptions.
There is a TV show that is not only receiving attention on all the entertainment sites, but all the tech and business blogs as well – and that TV show is……
Yes, it’s a great show, with a big star (Kevin Spacey), but there are lots of great shows; What is the big deal? The big deal is that House of Cards is a Netflix original program. Not HBO, not FOX, but Netflix.
Netflix challenged the assumption that great, original programming does not have to be limited to broadcast or cable TV.
But this is of no surprise. Netflix has been challenging assumptions since the beginning. Netflix was founded in 1997 because its owner had racked up over $40 in late fees for Apollo 13. By 2000 the company had built its reputation on the business model of flat-fee unlimited rentals.
Netflix challenged the assumption that people wouldn’t leave the brick and mortar video store, that the Goliath’s like Blockbuster and Tower Video (remember them?) had taken for granted. Blockbuster reacted, but it was too late and receiving the red Netflix envelopes in the mail was the new norm for video rental.
But Netflix wouldn’t stop there. The assumption was that people would only want to watch TV on a TV. Sounds logical. Well Netflix challenged that assumption, and entered the digital world: The world of streaming videos on your computer (and years later on mobile). People would opt for the digital streaming. It was instant. No waiting for DVDs, no mailing them back. Netflix challenged their own model and won.
Now Netflix is challenging the big networks. Who said Netflix can only distribute but not create? Following their digital model of “on demand” entertainment, all episodes of House of Cards were released at the same time. Search #houseofcards on Twitter and it’s amazing how many people are addicted to the show (I am). In your own life and business be the Netflix and build your own House of Cards.
If you’re reading this blog, you are already challenging the assumption that the mainstream press believed in for years: that only they were capable of providing the content that people sought after. Blogs challenged that assumption and are now the go-to source for many.
So how do we become the innovator?We need to ask ourselves: Why does this need to be this way? We need to understand that just because something has not been done, doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be done. We can’t take anything for granted in life or in business. We need to be constantly asking questions, trying to create, and trying to improve.
What assumptions do you have that you now might challenge? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
About Seth Sklar: Combining years of sales experience, working for notable companies such as PR Newswire, Thomson Reuters, and currently Toppan Vite (NY). Seth has found his greatest enjoyment in helping people and organizations accelerate their success.
Your blog really strikes a hot button with me! I'm up against assumption all the time, but I'm determined to persevere. I'm a "relationship expert" because I've interviewed hundreds of couples married 50 years or longer; it's something I've pro-actively pursued for years. If you want to learn how to do something right, you learn from the experts, right? But the traditional model of a relationship expert is an individual with academic initials by their name. I dole out practical, easy-to-use, real-life relationship advice. When I give advice or programs/presentations, I inevitably hear, "Wow, are you a psychologist??? Your point and encouragement are well taken, Seth. Thank you.
Excellent post Seth! You're right on. I really enjoyed the examples - unfortunately there are far too many people who limit themselves and their companies by assuming things - in particular "things that can't work" - these are the people and companies that will limit themselves and never be outstanding because they fear risk and lack imagination and the allure of possibility. Congratulations on this excellent post!
Great post Seth. Assumptions are the mother of all screw-ups. I personally love the old adage... "When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME." Best demonstrated by Tony Randel, on a chalk board, playing Felix Unger in one of my favorite Odd Couple TV episodes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEP1acj29-Y
More importantly it causes us to be stagnant, view things from our own perspective instead of that of those we are trying to serve, or sell. Marketing 101... don't market to yourself, market to your target audience and understand what it is they want, need, and /or desire.
@TedRubin @Seth Sklar it's funny, I've never really thought of that famous saying in regard to business, I suppose this is because my business style is very exploratory and scientific - but it is an especially critical and true in business when employees assume and do things wrong or skip things they really do make an ass of you and your business- another reason making sure you staff your company with forward thinking individuals so important for innovation and progress.