Should we question ALL assumptions?


What will happen next?

In the last post I suggested that we shouldn’t be shy about questioning assumptions.  But what?  ALL assumptions?

Assumptions serve a purpose, otherwise they wouldn’t have lasted so long. They enable us to take shortcuts. Suppose I assume it is going to be sunny and don’t take a coat when I walk to the neighbourhood shops and get caught in a downpour.  What are the consequences?  I get wet and I am uncomfortable. But it doesn’t last long, and I am the only one affected.  True, it would have taken but a moment or so to check my iPhone, so I probably also feel an idiot. But that’s it.  Cost is small, temporary, and impact is limited.  

Now consider an infrastructure decision where:

  • the costs are large,
  • the consequences last a long time, and
  • they impact many people.

So when the consequences are low, by all means save yourself the effort if you wish, but if they are high – and particularly when the consequences are to be borne by others – we owe it to them to check, to question, to verify.

The DESCARTES SQUARE is a useful tool to ensure that ALL consequences are considered:

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