Part of being a good consultant is being able to get through the diagnosis and to a solution as quickly as possible (but getting it right). To do that we must make assumptions, but where are assumptions short cuts and where are they acceptable?
You know what they say about assumptions. We can't realistically base our diagnostic conclusions entirely on our empirical research done at the beginning of an engagement. We make what we consider to be reasonable assumptions based on discussions with the client and staff, market or technical research, our own analysis and any other information we collect. It is a judicious combination of facts, intuition and experience that is the hallmark of a consultant's detective like skills.
However, professionalism compels us to be on watch for assuming too much, too fast. It is all too easy, after years of experience, to be impressed with our experience and comfortable with believing we "have seen this case a thousand times before." To keep this in check, a professional has processes in place, maybe even formal ones, to challenge and verify all assumptions made on the way to a diagnosis. What are the ways you make sure you are not assuming too much without knowing it?
Tip: Write out the steps you take in your normal process (or more than one) of scoping a project, collecting data, reaching diagnosis, and presenting findings and recommendations. Note the type and criticality of your assumptions at each stage. Finally, describe the implications on this diagnostic chain of each of your assumptions and what you could do to mitigate the risks of wrong assumptions. Now, when people talk about your assumptions, they will have only good things to say. © 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA