By: Norrie Jackson Partner JFP 06/30/2022 Categories: News

Never Assume

As we are now halfway through 2022, I have been reflecting on some of the decisions made by business owners (not my clients), whom I have come across over the last six months. In several cases, they made assumptions, which were incorrect – three examples:

  • Company A had an employee, who was integral to the growth of the business. They had assumed that there was no point in instituting a “share incentive plan” because they thought the employee would not go elsewhere because of the annual bonuses he was receiving – but the employee did find another a job – and they are really struggling to find a suitable replacement – ouch!
  • Company B decided to enter a Joint Venture and with undue haste, signed the agreement assuming the net cash flow was neutral – once they “crunched” the numbers, the actual cost to them was £100k per annum – ouch!
  • The owner of Company C put himself forward as a Non-Executive Director of another company. He never asked for a Job Description assuming the work would take a day per month – he now finds it is taking him two days per month – re-negotiating his fee is not going to be easy - ouch!

In working with Business Owners, I encourage them to Never Assume.

To do this, I refer to Edward de Bono – many of you will heard of him – he was Maltese, a physician, psychologist, and a prolific author, penning 85 books, many of which were on creative thinking or on the phrase he coined Lateral Thinking. He sadly died a year ago at the age of 88.

Many years ago, I was in New Zealand in the ski resort of Queenstown. For some reason, the chairlift which normally started 8.30 am was delayed. In the car park, I started reading a book by Edward de Bono, entitled the Mechanism of the Mind, which I had recently bought.

He started the book by mentioning that he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University – and the college gates were locked at 1pm – and if you forgot your keys, you would be locked out.

One night, he had been on the razzle dazzle in London and arrived back at college at 3 am – he reached for his keys, but he had forgotten them. Unperturbed, he decided to climb the college gate – as he got to the top, the gate swung open – he had assumed the gate was locked – but it was not.

Whilst reading this, I noticed the people in the car next to me, were trying to jam open the boot of their car with their ski poles - I wound down my window and asked, “What’s Up?” – they replied that they had lost their car keys and they thought they were in the boot. I replied, “Do you think the keys could have dropped down under the driver’s seat?” – and sure enough there they were – problem solved in five minutes.

Four years ago, I was in Vietnam for The Victoria Foundation, a medical charity I am involved with in Richmond. A dozen of us were carrying out a five-day trek to raise monies for the Charity and we arrived in Hanoi late afternoon. We agreed to meet at 6.30pm in the hotel bar before going out for a meal.

At 6.30pm, my friend Ronny came into the bar and announced he had lost his passport – immediately I thought of Edward de Bono – and asked him “When did you last see it ?“ – he explained that he thought he had put it in the safety deposit box – I said “Let’s check it out” – we went into his room and there in the safety box was the passport. It had nestled upright against the right-hand side of the box – and because there was little light, it could not be seen – and was only found when I put my hand into the box. Problem solved in 5 minutes.

And a final example - a couple of months ago I was with the CEO of one of my clients – we had been at an evening event – and afterwards, we were walking back to Blackfriars – she had to get the last train back to Reading. She suddenly stopped on the pavement and said “Ooops ! – I think I have left my mobile at the event “– she had a quick rummage in her bag and said “Go on – I will have to go back to the event “. I said, “Are you sure the mobile is definitely not in your bag?” – she had another rummage – and there it was – problem solved in one minute – and she caught her last train to Reading.

So, if you think you have a problem, please Never Assume!

Norrie Jackson – JFP Strategic Planning Partner