As the saying goes, “It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know that just ain’t so.”

Uncertainty is dominated by assumptions—of not not knowing. Conversely, certainty is a place of knowledge.

It’s best to make key decisions based on knowledge and have confidence in those decisions. “I don’t know” is often the honest, though unpopular and scary, answer to questions when operating in a space of uncertainty. Instead of mimicking facts to move a project in an anointed direction, it is imperative to have clear communication and understanding of sound presumptions, assumptions, and knowledge to all parties, so that key decisions are made in a known context. 

By adopting a process of converting assumptions to knowledge it is possible to demonstrate and measure progress when there are high levels of uncertainty. A discovery based approach enables teams to pivot or hold course based on learning, so that projects can develop immunity against bad outcomes.

We can reason to have a probable outcome; presumptions are based on evidence, yet they are not certain. They might be true or false, and we can reasonably justify a conclusion based on probability.

We need inquiry; assumptions don’t need evidence or reason, they may be informed based on deep seated belief, or pulled from thin air. We turn assumptions into knowledge through a process of questioning, discovery and experimentation from which we deduce an accepted conclusion.

We are confident that the evidence we have observed provides enough certainty to accept an assumption to be true or false (but we’re willing reassess with new evidence).

Try the P:A:K Lab Drill
Explore the presumptions, assumptions, and knowledge of your idea with the P:A:K Lab Drill. Log in to the Lab to access instructions and tips from the Use a Drill section of your My Home page, or download helpful P:A:K cards here.