Assumption – The Mistake of Understanding

By Sameer Kamboj, SKC World

A large portion of our lives is invested in activities that we feel will lead to increased success. Of course, our ideas of success are different. All our pursuits follow the trajectory of these ideas of success.

As a part of these pursuits, you need to work with and through people. Once success is tasted, you experience the desire to scale it up. Your scale depends entirely on how well you connect and engage with people and the world around you.

The Ground Reality

Aligning people requires a clear understanding of self as well as the people we wish to align with. But do we have the time or inclination to understand ourselves and others? The lust for achieving short term goals versus the lure of long-term capacity building stresses us out.

This remains the key cause for committing one of the biggest execution related mistakes towards scaling up our successes. We end up using tools of niceness, material wealth, fear, and manipulation and still end up with poor results. This mistake must be avoided in absolute. Committing this mistake is like setting ourselves up for failure from the beginning. All forms of strategies for assuming scale (Balanced ScoreCard, PEST Model, Blue Ocean, etc.) need implementation.

In order to implement these strategies, the basic requirement is that our people need to be aligned with them. They need to believe in these strategies and be a part of their making. But our mistake of Assumptions remains the spoiler. Let’s see how it functions. Take the following example to understand this mistake.

Let us take the example of Susan who is into online and retail stores format of selling home decorative items trying to tell her people that this year they wish to achieve a sales turnover of $10 million with a profit of 30%. That this turnover will come from satisfied customers making 3 purchases each in a year. And that they will open 3 new stores next year. She clearly motivates her people well and talks enthusiastically about what the future holds for them.

After 6 months, she finds her sales are not improving. In fact, the attrition rate has increased and there are more customer complaints than before. Despite marketing budgets, new customer acquisitions remains a challenge. What is going wrong?

When she conducts her review meetings, her people are talking about all the good and the bad things they should be saying but it does not translate into results. During a chance meeting with one of her managers she hears a sense of non-belief in the goals and a statement saying, “Well, these goals were always diffcult, but what was the point of expressing this? No one would believe me.”

What’s going on?

1. Assuming agreement is enough

Despite providing a platform for people to express dissenting opinions, this remains a common issue. The root lies in the assumption that understanding is enough. It isn’t just their habits and behaviours that are spoilers, it is people’s lack of understanding about their own compulsions of body, mind, emotions and energy. Habits and attitudes are around body and mind only. Your mastery over your own emotions and energy will lead to real engagement with people. It is then that you understand and appreciate people’s real compulsions and then design your pursuits of scale.

2. Assuming your vision and values inspire others

Your excitement over your vision and your conviction around your values lead you to inspire your people with them. As you talk to them with passion, sometimes they do get inspired at that moment. But later, fear, greed and lust creep in. Your grand vision to solve a problem in the world is limited by your inability to solve the problems of fear, greed and lust within your organisation.

Your real work lies in engaging with people in a manner that they become conscious of their own fears, greed and lust while in pursuit of the common vision alongside you.

3. Assuming an ability to participate

Mistaking people’s silence, nods or at times even consent towards the goals does not necessarily guarantee their willing participation. People struggle with life’s basic issues like how to manage their time, desires and activities. A successful background doesn’t guarantee future success. Each time a Virat Kohli or a Ronaldo enter the field, they do not rest on their past glories or failures. They play the game afresh. Our assumption about your star players may lead to your downfall. Live in the truth of the fresh game and keep helping them work on managing their time, desires and activities. Remember, each time it is a new match. Help your players realise this as you go through your realisation. Your under or over expectations about yourself are also stemming from your past failures and glory. Shed it off.

4. Assuming that people can be managed

When goals are set, this assumption that you can manage people is the ultimate spoiler. Since performance is the ultimate goal for all, most policies get framed to ensure high performance from non-performers or mediocre performers. Policies and procedures focussed mainly on such people lead to performers becoming the centre of all focus and attention. This causes strain on the fabric of the organisation due to which ‘heroes’ start emerging. Such power centres become toxic in no time. While “performance” is a non-negotiable aspect of every organisation, an absolute focus on performance gives “Culture” or the method of getting to perform a back seat.


Unless assumptions about abilities, attitudes, willingness and dreams are dropped and one lives in the terrains of existential truth, real engagement with life is not possible. This is possible only through attaining a certain degree of consciousness about ourselves and about others. We need to accept people as they are. We should not try too hard to drive or transform people, it may stretch them too thin. Instead, we just need to accept them and allow them to accept themselves. As this happens, they tap into their potential and choose growth while ensuring their survival. They begin to improve their capabilities, skills, attitudes and collaborate with others while helping everyone become better. It is no longer a survival of the fittest! It is no longer an animal’s life! But a life of evolution.

Scaling up goes beyond mere survival.

Sameer Kamboj

Sameer Kamboj

GCG member firm
SKC World
Advisory, Auditing & Accounting, Tax
New Delhi, India
T: +91 11 41324 619
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Published: GGI Insider, No. 114,July 2021 l Photo: Marcus -

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