Assumptions are one of the main reasons we trip in our work. We have biases and that leads us to assign significance to the wrong things. This is important to acknowledge and understand with the hope that it will help us become better innovators.
A good example is this example from Michael Lewis’s article on the work of Daniel Kahneman:
It didn’t take me long to figure out that, in a not so roundabout way, Kahneman and Tversky had made my baseball story possible. In a collaboration that lasted 15 years and involved an extraordinary number of strange and inventive experiments, they had demonstrated how essentially irrational human beings can be. In 1983—to take just one of dozens of examples—they had created a brief description of an imaginary character they named “Linda.” “Linda is thirty-one years old, single, outspoken, and very bright,” they wrote. “She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in antinuclear demonstrations.” Then they went around asking people the same question:
Which alternative is more probable?
Linda is a bank teller.
Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.
The vast majority—roughly 85 percent—of the people they asked opted for No. 2, even though No. 2 is logically impossible. (If No. 2 is true, so is No. 1.) The human mind is so wedded to stereotypes and so distracted by vivid descriptions that it will seize upon them, even when they defy logic, rather than upon truly relevant facts. Kahneman and Tversky called this logical error the “conjunction fallacy.”