How many legs does a cow have if everyone agrees its tail is a leg?
Most decisions are based on an underlying assumption. Positions articulated in a debate are based on an assumption. The problem is that, too often, in business the assumption is never made explicit, or if it is, its accuracy is never questioned.
Some of the worst decisions I've made or been a party to were ultimately based on a flawed assumption that was never challenged. Here's a few examples of wrong-headed assumptions that you may recognize:
Anyhow, you get the idea. My point is not to gore anyone's ox. It is to suggest that we all need to challenge the assumptions we make that drive critical decision making. In my experience, most business leaders could do a much better job of this.
How do you do on this front? Push yourself and those around you to make assumptions explicit. Tease the assumptions out of arguments if you need to. Challenge whether you agree with the assumption or not. Step back and see if it is in fact accurate. This approach will create better debates, better analysis and certainly better decision making.
After all, a cow only has four legs. Assuming a tail is a leg doesn't change that.