Assumptions, Assumptions

In one of my latest MIT newsletters (free subscription of course!) a great piece on testing assumptions.The Importance of Testing Assumptions

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely's talk from the TED conference last month was recently posted online. In his talk, Ariely (who wrote the best-selling Predictably Irrational) addresses, through his own experience, a topic that is also quite relevant for innovators in an uncertain environment: the importance of testing assumptions through experiments.

He also makes some great comments on cheating (of all things).

  • Everyone cheats, a little. But only to a point where it does not challenge their self image of being a “good” person
  • People start cheating (more) when a member of their in-group blatantly cheats
  • People stop cheating when a member of an out-group blatantly cheats 
  • People cheat less when confronted with moral standards (people lie less about remembering the 10 commandments, for example)

In our project lifestyles we come across this phenomenon all the time. No so much cheating as social behaviors like groupthink that we as project managers need to find ways of combating.

A good start is to be aware from the outset that people are sometimes “predictably irrational” and may not be sensitive to your rational, evidence-based arguments…

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