Act on facts, not assumptions

Sharing our thinking with others helps us uncover assumptions we are making. We naturally fill in gaps. We apply our personal filters to the situation. We do this to make sense of our world.

This week I will write a findings and recommendations report for a client. Recommendations are most certainly my opinion and advice. But findings are meant to be as close as possible to reality. I am an outsider who was air lifted into a complex organization. I’ll never really understand an insider’s perspective. That’s ok. It’s my objectivity that is valued. As I examine documents and conduct interviews I am careful about my conclusions. Are my observations really facts? Unlikely. Not undisputable facts. Everybody’s got their own opinion. Including an opinion about my opinion.

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Before I write my formal report, I share my initial findings with my client. I ask if they agree. “Tell me about your concerns.” We have a meaningful dialogue and I make some adjustments to wording, add a few points of clarification and when the report is released the focus is on next steps instead of defending the current state. It is the absence of information that moves us to assume. That is why we need to be the best we can be at sharing our thinking as viewpoints, not facts.

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