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The Danger of Jumping to Conclusions

In life things sometimes go wrong. In business, it is useful to go back and look at what happened and why. But in order to get real answers, we need to avoid jumping to conclusions.

Jumping to conclusions is a sometimes natural process. Something happens and we want to know why. Unfortunately, we sometimes jump to the wrong conclusions. Once you have a wrong conclusion, it can take a life of its own. If you base future decisions on incorrect conclusions, things can really get dicey.

Imagine that Sarah is a potter. A new client comes to her for a large commission that the client wants done in a specific color. Sarah hasn’t used that color before, but orders some premixed glaze and gets to work. Unfortunately, when she tries a new glaze color it turns out wrong.

If she jumps to the conclusion that something is wrong with the glaze, throws it out, and cancels the order, she could be making a mistake. Pottery glazes are different from normal paints, the final colors and textures are the result of chemical reactions when the pieces are fired and some glazes are more sensitive than others. Other reasons the glaze might be turning out wrong include: too much or too little glaze on the piece, reactions with the underlying clay, and reactions with other glazes being fired at the same time, among other things.

In this situation, a potter like Sarah would be more likely to do some experimentation, probably before she even finished the commissioned piece. She would test different glaze thicknesses, make sure nothing went wrong with the kiln, and maybe consult the glaze manufacturer for more information. Then she could move forward with better information and likely keep the commission.

How does this relate to your business?

No one can control everything and sometimes bad things happen. When they do it is natural and appropriate to examine what went wrong. Doing this can be a beneficial process if you are careful about jumping to conclusions. Even reasonable conclusions, can be wrong. Assuming you know the reason why something happened can cause you to focus on the wrong reasons and waste time, money, and energy on fixing them for the future while allowing the actual root causes to go unaddressed.

Instead, when something goes wrong, ask questions to determine what went wrong and why, making sure that you don’t assume that the first logical answer is the correct one. Look at multiple potential answers and think about which could play a role. Ask other people who may have information you lack. Once you have identified one or more answers, ask why these things happened until you get to a root cause or causes. Don’t let a wrong conclusion blind you to what is really going on.



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