Activate your inner analyst and apply the Key Assumptions Check to a problem or situation.
Developed with the Intelligence Community in mind, the Key Assumptions Check provides a framework for analysts to challenge mindsets, identify patterns, work through ambiguity and discern threats. Analysts frequently need to make assumptions to fill in gaps of information and it is important to write them down and acknowledge their existence. Once they are made explicitly clear, review the statements and put them in one of three categories: basically solid, correct with some caveats or unsupported/questionable. Reflect on the role of the assumptions that are basically solid and consider how those deemed unsupported/questionable impact progression and how they might be eliminated in the future.
Application to a Real Life:
“I wish I could go to a conference in Chicago but I can’t.”
- My boss won’t approve the time off
- Someone else from our group is going
- I can’t afford it; the flight will be too expensive
- The weather will be too cold to actually enjoy it
Each one of the sample assumptions could be further broken down and explored; but the idea is that the assumptions get put into writing and categorized thus exposing whether there is real merit behind them.
Comments on your experiences with the Key Assumptions Check are welcomed!
Check out this article by Randy Pherson for more information on the Key Assumptions Check and several other analytic techniques.