Monday, April 06, 2020

Pre-Pandemic Assumptions and Presumptions

Over the last 3 years my wife and I have become avid backpackers with many adventures under our belt.  One of the biggest surprises I learned during my time in the wilderness was how often I make wrong assumptions.

It was mid-July and the lake we were backpacking to was still frozen over and the trail was covered in deep snow.  I had assumed warm mid-July weather would have cleared the trails.  Another time after fishing in a high mountain lake, I looked at the map and saw the trail passed directly above our location.  After over an hour looking for the trail we realized it didn't exist.  My assumptions that maps are updated regularly and accurately reflect the reality on the ground were wrong.  I can't tell you how many times I have learned that the obvious shortcut doesn't save you time.

We all make assumptions.  We assume something is true or certain to happen, without proof.  We also make presumptions.  We presume ideas are true, and then use them as the basis for other ideas until we have built ourselves a house of cards that is one fact away from collapsing.  As we ponder our changed mid-pandemic world from our home offices with our dogs and kids under our desk, it is a good time to reflect on the assumptions and presumptions that got us into this predicament.  

I think we presumed the biggest dangers in flying were potential terrorist attacks or equipment failure.  I think we assumed our doctors had the answers to whatever illness we picked up.  I think we presumed that since all companies seemed to be developing long and lean supply chains that they must be resilient, redundant and reliable.  I think we presumed that an illness in China was a Chinese problem.  I think we assumed that the local hospital could just order and quickly receive any supplies or equipment they needed.  I think we assumed that our economy would always be there in the morning.  I think we assumed toilet paper would always be available. I think we assumed our leaders had a plan.

As our anxiety evolves into acceptance of our mid-pandemic situation, perhaps it is a good time to re-evaluate the assumptions and presumptions we all have about the world around us.  What I have learned in this past month is we have far less control over our world and destiny than might have been presumed.

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist | Leadership Strategies at TCS
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.