What Are Your Assumptions?

By James Ellis

closeup_donkeyPeople don’t read the web, they scan. People don’t like to click. People don’t look past the first four Google search results. People only search Google with 2-3 word search terms. People don’t open their email on the weekends. People don’t spend money online. People don’t trust strangers online. No one cares what you had for breakfast. No one will want to look at a picture of your lunch. People buy most Christmas gifts online on the Monday after Thanksgiving. No one will download a movie to watch on their phone.

All of the above statements were once considered gospel at one time. Gospel. Carved into stone tablets. Given to marketers’ children to recite every morning.

But you should all see at least one statement that you know to be patently false (in fact, I’m pretty sure that they almost all are, depending on circumstances). But they linger on, because they are based on assumptions.

These are just examples of online/web/tech assumptions that linger in the minds of people close to us (especially clients and bosses). There are plenty of business, blogging and personal assumptions we make and live by that simply aren’t true anymore (assuming they ever were).

Assumptions are the blind spots in our vision. We see them without acknowledging them every day. We work around them instead of challenging them, when challenging them is how we create success. Think of Kodak and Poloroid, who assumed we’d always want printed pictures. Think of Ford (circa 2009) who assumed Americans only bought big cars. Think of the music industry, who assumed that we wouldn’t like to download our music whenever we wanted.

Businesses fail every day because their assumptions were wrong. Businesses thrive every day because they took a chance on challenging assumptions. Think of Starbucks, who didn’t listen to the assumptions that people wouldn’t pay $5 for a cup of coffee. Think of Apple, who didn’t listen to the assumption that people didn’t want to check their email every second of the day. Think of Rick Bayless who didm’t listen to the assumption that Mexican food is cheap food.

What are the assumptions you live with every day? Are you challenging them? If you don’t, what happens when someone else does?

Author’s Bio: James Ellis is a digital strategist, mad scientist, lover, fighter, drummer and blogger living in Chicago. You can reach out to him or just argue with his premise at saltlab.com.

Photo credit: Dieter van Baarle, Flickr CC.

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