Challenge Assumptions

We all make assumptions about our creative work. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of them. By identifying your assumptions and challenging them, you can often find some creative breakthroughs.

A Book is Not a Book

Recently a client hired our team to collaborate on a teacher’s manual. We had already assisted with publishing the student manual, so we were familiar with the material, the client, and even their creative work style.

As we started on the new project, I realized that we were making the assumption that the teacher manual had to match the format of the student manual. Because the student manual was produced using InDesign and published as a PDF (sometimes printed), we were thinking that the teacher’s manual would also.

The spark of insight came when we challenged this assumption. What if the teacher’s guide was produced differently? Suddenly the idea of creating the guide as a website emerged. This would offer many benefits:

  • easy to edit and maintain over time
  • accommodates new media types: audio, video, animation
  • easy linking to other online resources
  • controlled access to different types of users
  • easy to distribute across a broad audience
  • elimination of print costs

The client ended up loving the idea, and we quickly launched a prototype to test the solution.

Now You

  • What assumptions are you making about your project? Write them down.
  • Now challenge each one. Does it really have to be true? Even if it does, this is a good exercise in confirming them.
  • If an assumption is not required, what new possibilities are available? Come up with at least three new options.
  • Look for new learning opportunities. Where can education help open some doors for solutions based on the new options?
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