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Turn those Assumptions into Questions!

So we all know that old adage about “assume”, right? OK, for those who do not know, if you “assume”, you will make an “a**” out of “u” and “me”. But boy, it sure is easy to assume things on a project, isn’t it?

I’ve been working on a new project, and as usual, we have a lot of questions around the project and the subject matter itself. However, we have to be careful about not making assumptions of what we may, or may not know. As our team works together, we are reminding each other to not make “assumptions”.

Especially when the subject matter is new to the project team, or the customer is unfamiliar, assumptions can sink your project. Make the wrong assumption, and the project can be put in jeopardy. Make assumptions on whether or not requirements are needed (you know there are people who are out there that assume they know it all!), and you can miss the mark entirely.

It’s hard not to make assumptions, especially about the little things. Many times people feel silly about asking questions about small things, and they fear that they will look stupid. However, it is the small things that can make a huge difference. Resist the urge to assume!

Instead, what we are attempting to do is turn those assumptions into questions for our SMEs and stakeholders. Anytime a person on the team says “well I assumed…”, we stop and add that assumption to our list of questions.  Any assumptions that are actually valid, goes into our assumption list.  When we meet with our stakeholder or SMEs, we pull out our list of questions, and ask away.

Even for things such as logistics, we do not assume. Our current project is in the next town over. Our stakeholder has been very supportive of our travel time, and when he schedules meetings he always includes a dial-in number. But we do not assume that just because he did include a dial-in number that we will be working from our office instead of theirs. It’s a topic of discussion for our next meeting. Let’s talk about what makes the most sense for both organizations, and come to a mutual understanding. No assumptions, and we have also set expectations about our time on site at the same time.

 

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