Business Perspectives

How to keep assumptions from drowning your vision

In His Own Words

At Next Element Consulting, we are two years into re-inventing our business model and setting a course for a dramatically different trajectory to impact more lives.

Conflict is a daily event around here. Perhaps it’s because we are so passionate. Perhaps because we are so different.

We work through it and move on, doing our best to capture the creative potential in the conflict.

Sometimes it seems we just can’t get on the same page. There seem to be recurring glitches that we can’t figure out. We go our separate ways, working on our tasks, and when we come back together, it’s like we’ve all been working off different blueprints.

It’s not that we don’t share the big vision or that we aren’t working hard. Very often it’s because we’ve made disparate assumptions and worked from them without awareness.

Recently we started a big day of strategic planning by sharing our assumptions. We all disclosed any assumptions we had about what we were supposed to be doing, what the purpose was, who we were doing it for, and why we were doing it.

If you’ve ever been confused and said, “But I thought we agreed to …,” then you’ve been working off an assumption. We had a lot of that!

The diversity of what was shared was both discouraging and enlightening. We spent several hours hashing out our assumptions, getting clarity, working toward agreement and writing them down.

The rest of the day went so much better. Our progress was greatly accelerated by getting these assumptions out on the table.

And the next week we forgot half of them. Good thing we wrote them down.

Now, our agreed-upon working assumptions are front and center for every staff meeting and are posted where we can see them. Working off the same blueprint has made a big difference.

Assumptions are a natural part of how humans function. Having aligned assumptions is great.

To enhance your team’s cohesion and productivity, make it a regular practice to reveal, check and align your assumptions about why you are here and what you are doing.

Nate Regier is a founding owner of Next Element Consulting, a global leadership development and communication training firm based in Newton. He is co-author of “Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires.” Contact him at or 316-772-6174.

Interested in writing for “Business Perspectives”? Contact Tom Shine at or 316-268-6268.