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Leadership Strategy: Quickly Identify and Manage Assumptions

If you want to be a better leader, stop making assumptions. The Known Knowns PowerPlay™ looks at four categories of information and it quickly answers three basic questions to help you identify and manage assumptions.

We all know what happens when we make assumptions. It’s not good in our personal lives, and it’s definitely not good for business.

The “ossification of assumptions” — the hardening of assumptions into facts without validation — negatively impacts decision-making and actions, ultimately increasing the risk of failure. To avoid the slippery slope of making assumptions, learn from a proven technique the military has used for decades: Known Knowns. 

Known Knowns is a technique to quickly assess and validate what you do and don’t know. This exercise enables you to bucket data points and get your team on the same page.

By the way, you don’t have to be a Four-Star General to benefit from using Known Knowns. 

Known Knowns: A Technique to Help You Identify and Manage Assumptions

Known Knowns quickly answers three basic questions to help you identify and manage assumptions:

  • What assumptions do we know (validated)?
  • What assumptions can we know but have not validated?
  • What assumptions can we not know?

Watch the Known Knowns PowerPlay™ video and download the Quick Reference Guide here.

How to Get Started

  1. Identify an opportunity with one of your teams to validate their assumptions prior to executing their plan.
  2. Use the PowerPlay™ to identify which assumptions are in the Known Unknown category that should be validated prior to execution.
  3. Have the team track the assumptions and their validations to completion.


Do you need help honing your leadership strategies? Contact me to learn about my keynote speakingexecutive coaching, and facilitation services.