Why should anything change next quarter?

As Albert Einstein noted, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Yet as we plan our next quarter, we tend to ask, “What should we do differently this quarter?” instead of asking, “How should we be thinking differently this quarter?”.

In other words, we are planning next quarter’s actions based on the same thinking (assumptions) that drove their actions in the previous quarter. And if we choose to believe Einstein there is no real reason we will see dramatically different results!

If you want to know how many times a week a person is going to train in the gym next month, don’t ask them, “how many times do you plan to train NEXT month?” instead, ask them, “how many times DID you train LAST month?”

Indeed the past is the best predictor of the future. Why? Because humans are creatures of habit. Our actions are triggered by our thoughts, and 90% of our thoughts are automatic. We are programmed based on our current set of (rigid) assumptions of how the world works and what we need to do in order to fit in it.

We are basically running programmed software, and unless we rewrite our software, there is no real reason to expect any real change. The bottom line is that as individuals, we need to change how we think before we change what we do.

Our companies are not different than us as individuals. Just like us, our companies develop a set of assumptions regarding :

  • The market
  • The customers and their needs
  • Our product and solutions
  • Our business model
  • The “right” way to do things
  • The “wrong” way to do things
  • etc.

Just like us, our companies hold (limiting) assumptions regarding how the world works and what we need to do to fit in (AKA product-market fit). And it is these assumptions that drive our action when we plan a new quarter.

So as we plan next quarter let's try resisting our human default of asking “What should we DO next quarter?”. Instead, let's try starting the quarter by asking:

  1. What did we learn this quarter?
  2. How did our insights impact our core assumptions about (the market… our solution… our business model etc.)?
  3. Based on our updated assumptions what should we do differently?

Let's try starting by challenging our core assumptions. Change our thinking first and only then our actions.

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