Assumption Mapping:
Understanding and Overcoming Assumptions to Improve Decision-Making

What is assumption mapping?

Assumption mapping is a tool used to identify and understand the underlying assumptions that inform decision-making. It is a process of systematically identifying and examining the assumptions that shape our understanding of a problem or situation, and the decisions we make as a result. The goal of assumption mapping is to increase the transparency and validity of decision-making by making our assumptions explicit and subjecting them to scrutiny.

Why is Assumption Mapping Important?

Assumptions are an inherent part of decision-making, and we often make them unconsciously. Without being aware of our assumptions, we may base our decisions on false or incomplete information. This can lead to poor decisions and missed opportunities. By making our assumptions explicit and subjecting them to scrutiny, assumption mapping helps us identify and overcome potential biases and errors in our thinking. It also helps us to identify and explore alternative perspectives, leading to more creative and effective decision-making.

Examples of Assumption Mapping in Action

  • Example 1: A company is deciding whether to expand into a new market. They use assumption mapping to identify their assumptions about the market, such as the size of the market, the potential competitors, and the regulatory environment. They then subject these assumptions to scrutiny by gathering data and seeking input from experts. This helps the company to identify potential risks and opportunities, and to make a more informed decision about expanding into the new market.
  • Example 2: A government agency is developing a policy to address a social problem. They use assumption mapping to identify their assumptions about the causes of the problem, the potential solutions, and the likely impact of the policy. They then subject these assumptions to scrutiny by consulting with experts and engaging in public consultations. This helps the government agency to identify potential gaps in their understanding of the problem, and to develop a more effective and evidence-based policy.
  • Example 3: A team of engineers is designing a new product. They use assumption mapping to identify their assumptions about the product's capabilities, the design constraints, and the target market. They then subject these assumptions to scrutiny by building and testing prototypes, gathering feedback from user testing, and consulting with experts. This helps the team to identify potential design flaws, and to make more informed decisions about the final design of the product.


Assumption Mapping is a powerful tool that can help us overcome biases and improve the quality of our decision-making. By making our assumptions explicit, we can subject them to scrutiny and identify potential flaws or gaps in our understanding. This can lead to more informed, effective and efficient decisions. It can be used in any field, whether it be Business, Politics, Engineering or any other field. It's the process of questioning and validating the assumptions which makes it valuable.

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