Mindset TrapsJun 23, 2023
4.5 minute read...
When I teach assumption hacking, I find it’s as much about getting learners to *stop* certain behaviors as it is about getting them to learn new ones. As I wrote about last week, humans are hardwired to make assumptions. And once an assumption is made, the default position of our neurobiology is to maintain it. In other words, old habits die hard.
This is why Assumption Hackers need to be keenly aware of certain psychological traps that we, as people, are liable to fall into. Because when we do fall into these traps, we greatly diminish our ability to effectively uncover, challenge and resolve the faulty assumptions holding us back.
The Big 4 Mindset Traps
1. The “I KNOW!” Trap.
Often sounds like: “Look, I’ve been in this business for xxx years. We’ve tried it all. This is how it is.”
You’re in this trap when you think that your answer is the only answer, and you have yet to uncover any underlying assumptions. Assumption hackers break free of this trap by telling themselves, “Every situation can be improved A LOT!” This then leads them to focus on identifying their gaps in understanding.
2. The “Complexity” Trap.
Often sounds like: “Our business is just too complex.” This trap is driven by the belief that the more complex the system, the more complicated a solution needs to be. Crippling bureaucratic policies and processes are the result, which invoke a fear that making changes would lead to a domino effect of painful consequences.
Assumption hackers break out of this trap by telling themselves, “Inherent simplicity is always there.” And this leads them to focus on identifying the improvement lever. Or put in Theory of Constraints terms, it leads us to identify the constraint: the one thing that governs the performance of the system as a whole.
3. The “Conflict” Trap.
Often sounds like: “Each side has to give up something”, or “I can do what’s best for the company or I can do what’s best for the customer, but I can’t do both.” We are in this trap when we believe that conflict is inevitable and that compromise (each side loses something) is the only answer.
Assumption hackers are freed from this trap when they adopt the very atypical belief that says, “Every conflict can be eliminated”. And then they focus on exposing, challenging and resolving the invalid assumption that is responsible for the conflict.
4. The “Blaming” Trap.
Often sounds like: “Not my fault!” or “It’s their fault!” or even “I blame myself”.
Blaming is a reaction to what we feel when something goes wrong. It comes from a belief that wrong = failure. And to avoid feeling like a failure, we blame. Blaming others also stems from a belief that those “others” must have had some kind of malicious intentions. The logical conclusion is then that “Bad people deserve to be blamed.”
Succumbing to the blame-game is a trap because blaming doesn’t solve anything! Blame hands off the problem and its solution to someone or something else. It doesn’t make the problem go away, it doesn’t make the situation any better.
Assumption hackers get out of the Blaming Trap by taking the uncommon stance that says:
- People are good
- Blaming solves nothing.
When they do this, they turn their energies toward more productive pursuits.
- Uncovering and assumption hacking the conflict that led to what went wrong.
- Solving the conflict in a win-win-win way.
The Assumption Hacker's Mindset
Assumption Hackers fall into these traps like anyone else. The difference is that they are aware of them, and work hard to recognize when they are caught by one or more. Without first recognizing the mindset trap that one is in, it is very difficult to uncover a faulty assumption. You can’t address what you can’t see. Knowing these mindset traps will open the pathway for you to uncover your faulty assumptions and ultimately create the breakthroughs you're looking for.
BONUS: Quick hack for the Blame Trap.
When someone is behaving in a way that has you judging them negatively, ask yourself this question:
“Why would a reasonable, rational human being behave that way?”
You may still not know for sure why they’re behaving the way they are, and maybe they are not a reasonable, rational, human being after all. But the pause will help you consider plausible alternative reasons for their behavior. It moves you away from anger and blame, and makes it easier to move toward problem solving.
Whenever you're ready, here are a couple of ways I can help you:
- Assumption Hacking Essentials. Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt said in his forward to The Goal, “The challenging of basic assumptions is essential to breakthroughs.” In this digital course, I'll take you through a five step process for challenging those basic assumptions and creating breakthrough in the process. Join the waitlist and get notified when the course is released.
- Jenrada Programs. Customized workshops and longer engagements to help you create an organization of aligned problem solvers delivering extraordinary results. Complete this form, send me an email, or schedule a discovery call.
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