Two boxers are in a match scheduled for 12 rounds (regular boxing, not kick boxing or MMA). One of the boxers is knocked out after only 6 rounds, yet no man throws a punch.
How is this possible?
Answer: The boxers are female.
Did you get it correct? Great job! Odds are, though, that you probably made the assumption that the boxers were male.
The issue with assumptions in problem solving is they tend to lead you down the wrong path, which often results in wasted time, energy and money.
In this case, the assumption could have led you towards a different cause of the knock out–like "one boxer used hypnosis to knock the other out" or perhaps something even a bit more realistic such as "the boxer had a heart attack."
Either way, the assumption that was made prevented you from finding true cause right out of the gate.
When evaluating possible causes using Kepner-Tregoe problem analysis, assumptions are kept in check by first breaking down the problem into individual data points (which usually weeds out our original assumptions fundamentally) and then evaluating the possible causes and any remaining assumptions against the data points.
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