Good Questions Drive Good Assumptions

Written by Greg Spira

Often businesses struggle with a demand planning process anchored in numbers.  If you are spending your time trying to reverse engineer forecasts to understand why one number is different than another, then you are facing the same challenge.

As we move to an assumption-driven planning process, one of the best capabilities to develop is to ask good questions. Good questions will drive good assumptions.

Like the adage that “good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement”, learning how to ask the right questions takes the courage to try.  The good news is that many will also appreciate the adage that “there is no such thing as a stupid question”, so asking questions is generally a safe endeavour.

How exactly can questions drive better assumptions?

Start with the principle that you have a plan until you chose to change it.  When a change to the plan is proposed, ask why.  Don’t allow changes to the plan until you understand the underlying assumption.  This is key – once you have accepted the change to the plan, you now own it.  If you don’t understand it well enough to be able to confidently explain it, then you haven’t asked enough questions, or the change itself is suspect.

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