Check Your Assumptions [aside]

From clients, colleagues, and even me on occasion, one hears “It’s obvious that X should do Y” or “Why would you ever do it that way?” I even occasionally hear the “I word”…intuitive. But those statements all get ahead of themselves.

An idea is only “obvious” or “intuitive” after you’ve made certain assumptions about how that thing—or the world, for that matter—works. In philosophical terms, you can prove anything given the right set of premises, but your proof is meaningless if your premises aren’t any good.

I think a lot about collaboration, critiquing, and constructive relationships, and I see this happen a lot. It’s easy to treat an idea as spontaneous, but our ideas are always rooted in past experiences and beliefs. Everyone inevitably brings their own assumptions to a project and a lot of them are never made explicit. That’s fine at times, but those assumptions frequently need to be clarified.

When discussing ideas, features, and designs, don’t put the what before the why.

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