10 Surprising Ways to Stop Making Assumptions and Start Communicating Effectively

Confronting Assumptions: The Key to Breaking Barriers and Finding Innovative Solutions


One of the biggest stumbling blocks to finding fresh solutions to problems is our own assumptions. These assumptions often stem from our past experiences and can limit our ability to conceive new ideas. However, innovators are always aware of their assumptions and are happy to confront them. In this article, we will explore the concept of confronting assumptions and why it is essential for innovation and problem-solving.

The Story of the Pike:

The story of the northern pike provides a perfect illustration of how assumptions can limit our ability to find new solutions. In the story, a pike is put into an aquarium with a glass partition dividing it. The other half of the aquarium contains several small fish. The pike repeatedly tries to eat the fish but hits the glass partition every time. Eventually, the partition is removed, but the pike doesn’t attack the little fish. The pike had learned that attempting to eat the fish was futile and painful, so it stopped trying. This is an example of the “Pike Syndrome” we often suffer from in which an early experience conditions us into wrong assumptions about similar but different situations.

Why Confronting Assumptions is Crucial:

Confronting assumptions is critical for several reasons. Firstly, our assumptions can limit our ability to see beyond what we believe to be true. In doing so, we miss opportunities to find innovative solutions to problems. Secondly, assumptions can lead to incorrect conclusions and waste time and resources. Finally, by confronting our assumptions, we create an opportunity to challenge the status quo and achieve breakthroughs.

Strategies for Confronting Assumptions:

1. Identify Your Assumptions:

The first step to confronting assumptions is identifying them. One way to do this is to examine the beliefs you hold about a particular problem or situation. Ask yourself, “Why do I believe this to be true?” Once you have identified your assumptions, question them. Consider whether they are based on facts or if they are just beliefs you have inherited.

2. Seek Alternative Perspectives:

Another way to confront assumptions is to seek alternative perspectives. This can be achieved by gathering information from diverse sources, including experts, stakeholders, and end-users. Listening to different perspectives can help challenge our assumptions and provide insights that we may have otherwise missed.

3. Experiment and Test:

Experimentation and testing are great ways to challenge assumptions. By testing hypotheses, we can gain new insights and direct our efforts toward more effective solutions. This involves being open-minded and willing to accept feedback that goes against our assumptions.


Confronting assumptions is essential for innovation and problem-solving. By identifying and challenging our assumptions, we can break down barriers and find fresh solutions to problems. It requires the willingness to be open-minded, seek alternative perspectives, and experiment and test new ideas. At the end of the day, confronting assumptions is about breaking free from our preconceptions and being open to new possibilities.

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