The Danger of Assumptions

I was fascinated by a point that was made by the speaker who discussed on the job punishment and firing. Much of his speech centered on material that everyone expected he would cover. This included references to appropriate punishment and highlights of which actions warrant reprimand. However, the exercise that he presented the class with on the misperception of facts was very striking to me.
The simple example that he shared with the class, dealing with a description of a possible robbery and several follow-up questions which tested our understanding of the passage, resulted in very surprising outcomes for most participants. Most students, including myself, were confident in their ability to analyze a simple story and to derive to appropriate facts from that account. However, as the presenter demonstrated, people are naturally prone to assuming facts about much of what they read or hear.
The conclusion that my classmates and I are liable to assume incorrect facts led me to question my approach to the HR simulation. My teammates and I believed that our approach to the quarterly decisions of the simulation was all encompassing and, in general, led us to the proper conclusions. However, after seeing how difficult it can be to analyze a simple passage, I began to reconsider the validity of our decisions.
When looking at the previous quarter’s results, and planning for the coming period, my group was forced to constantly make assumptions about relationships between the data. With consecutive quarters, our analyses of relationships amongst data sets became more accurate as trends became clearer. However, in essence all of our decisions were based on guesses relationships that we felt we uncovered.
Although this line of thought brought a lot of doubt to my mind about the general process of decision making, it also helped me to realize that such assumptions are a necessary part of life. Nonetheless, I am still much more conscious about the possibility of making errors while assuming too much about a given set of information.


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