Non-Performing Assumptions and Best Practices

Last year I went to India to give a talk about humanistic business management and creating happier workplace cultures through humanistic philosophy.  As a result, I made a lot of new friends in the Delhi area and am connected to some really accomplished people on LinkedIn.

Me at the Taj Mahal. Yes. I was really there!
One of them posted an update by Debashis Chatterjee, who is the Director of the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode. He had given a talk to a group of bankers about how NPAs (Non-Performing Assets) should be better thought of as Non-Performing Assumptions.

Non-Performing Assumptions

First off - I really like the idea of non-performing assumptions.  So much of what we do all day has to do with solving problems. And a big way we make mistakes is we make assumptions. We don't. test our assumptions to see if they are validated or not.  When we make a bad assumption - we don't fix our problems.

The idea of a non-performing assumption is an assumption that doesn't help us fix our problem. It is a signal that we need to go back and do some critical thinking about why we are trying to solve our problems the way we are.  It's a great way to help us remember to critically examine our underlying assumptions.

Best Practices

Another thing he said related to this has to do with assumptions about whether honesty is the best policy.  He suggested that instead of it being a best policy - honesty is actually a best practice.

Let that sink in and consider how the idea of honesty as a best practice makes you reconsider how you think about honesty.

Honesty is the best policy is a slogan you laminate and stick on the wall. It's a rule dictated to us to follow. It is not a lived value.

In contrast, honesty is a best practice - helps us all see the relationship between our actions and our outcomes.  Honesty helps us get good results.  It's a best practice, not a best policy

Putting it together.

We all have assumptions. By challenging our assumptions, we can gain insight into how to improve ourselves and our work.  Even on something as simple as the assumption that honesty is the best policy.  Turns out - Mr. Chatterjee is right, it's a non-performing assumption. It means well. But it doesn't yield the results we want.  Tweaking it into honesty is a best practice - may help us realize that goal.

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