Check your assumptions at the door.

On July 23, 1983, Captain Bob Pearson listened through his cockpit headphones in Montreal as the technician stuck a measuring stick into the tanks of his brand new Boeing 767 and provided data for the flight crew to calculate how much fuel needed to be loaded onto the aircraft before a very long flight across Canada.  He found himself in the situation because the aircraft, a new model at the time, had been having problems with its fuel indicators and the crew resorted to manual means to verify how much fuel was present.  At the time, conversion from English to Metric units was in motion in the aircraft industry which meant that conversion factors for fuel calculation were being changed as well.

Long story short, this aircraft, with many aboard, dubiously ran out of gas at high altitude.  Only exceptional airmanship by Captain Pearson and his crew saved the aircraft and the people aboard when he creatively landed the unpowered aircraft at a remote airfield in the Canadian outback.  

Captain Pearson eventually experienced the "hero/goat" syndrome of most organizations; having taken the blame for actualizing a cascade of dangerous errors caused by a poor chain of custody of information while having been recognized for his heroic recovery of the plane and all aboard.  Demoted by his employer, he was honored by his peers and the Canadian government for his remarkable feat of skill. Eventually he returned to a leadership role and had a fantastic career until his retirement many years later.

In business and technology, we often make base assumptions that, once "assumed", rarely get questioned again.  This may be with customers we believe will not leave, factories we believe will yield ever-improving results or IP that we think we own.

So, how do your assumptions stack up?  Is your organizational culture poised to punish or learn when disaster strikes?

Considering what's at stake, what are the most important assumptions in your business?  How often do you review them? And, do your "pilots" have the skill and sponsorship from the top to safely guide you out of trouble when those assumptions suddenly or drastically change?

Helping you think differently and objectively, at the core of your business, is what we are about at Garnet Peak Associates.

John Kent      


Inches or Centimeters?  Assumptions matter.

Inches or Centimeters?  Assumptions matter.