The Wrong Assumptions Can Derail Your Organization


Eventually all our assumptions need to be either validated or disproved. In the world of business, the sooner we have clarity on foundational beliefs the better decisions we make with increasingly better results. Entrepreneurs have a sense of timing and intuitiveness that allow us to take calculated and yet successful risks early in our enterprises. Unfortunately this “beginner’s luck” is not a sustainable business practice and the same skill that got us going early on can lead to our undoing.


Take online advertisement for example. Intuitively we think that Generations X and Y would spend more time online than any of the previous generations since they are digital natives as opposed to digital immigrants for the rest of the population. As it turns out, Baby Boomers spend more time online than any other demographic*. As a marketer my understanding that 46-65 year-olds spend more time online than their younger counterparts has great significance. Entire business models, marketing campaigns, and communication strategies can be built on a false assumptions, such as that 18-35 year old is the primary audience of the web.

I have seen organizations have a difficult time getting past the “start up” mindset even though their balance sheet tells a different story. They keep making critical errors based on unproven bogus assumptions. Ignorance is not bliss; and your intuition is not a sustainable business or communication model. Assumptions must be tested and proven. Research is not the answer to every problem, but as a communication’s professional, I would hate to design and execute a branding or marketing plan based on a faulty set of beliefs. If the foundation is not solid, the plan and its implementation are irrelevant.

Have you ever been in a situation where your assumptions were wrong? What happened?

*(Source: Q1 2010 Three Screen Report, Nielsen Online NPOWER –Live +7 Total Screen Time July 2009 –July 2010 and Nielsen Online NetView Panel aggregated.) 
  • Robert

    I worked for a manufacturing company that made the wrong assumption on what consumers wanted from our product line. They did not do research, but instead relied on the owner’s intuition. We spent a lot of time and money and the new version was a big failure. I lost my job because we couldn’t sell the stuff. 

  • Mark Jeffress

    Unfortunately, those of us in ministry seldom see the value in research and end up making costly mistakes on trial and error approaches to strategies that research could validate for us. Thanks for the warning. 

  • Marc David

    Assumptions are deadly. I agree 1000%. I think too many times we look at things as “common knowledge”. Sales, marketing, operations… I think everyone falls victim to this at some point.

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