An artwork of Alice Bleto
Your company has a mission, a vision and a set of rules of conduct and of course, a strategy and marketing plan, etc. All these plans are explicit formulations of goals and means.
Socratic Design is capable of producing these plans, goals, and means, but only after a deep dive into the tacit knowledge of the company, the implicit culture, and even the unconsciousness of the company. A lot of these elements are often hidden and at the same time essential for the success of the business.
Now that we face constant disruptive challenges for any business or activity, we want to make plans fast and effective new plans. But you cannot make a real valid strategy if you do not know what your fundaments are.
Assumptions or presuppositions are essential for business. It can contain the hidden burden of your company, and it can provide the promising new strategy for any future.
Assumptions are the hidden thoughts, principles, values or feelings that are the feeding ground for all your actions. When we grow up in society, we are being initiated in a pool of tacit assumptions: that you have to learn, that you can own things, that your body is a machine, that money is the key for happiness, etc. Many of these assumptions go unnoticed into your unconsciousness. When you enter the school you will be fed with new assumptions: you learn that being on time is critical, that you have to listen, that you do not know much, that you should follow the rules etc.
In companies and organizations, we again enter into a new pool of assumptions. That you should compete with colleagues is an assumption, that you will earn according to your level of intelligence, or that you should sit the whole day.
The art of the Socratic Design is to find all your assumptions and decide which to eliminate and which to boost. You will have assumptions that are general cultural (women earn less than men), which are part of you as a leader (people should always be motivated), which are ingrained in your specific company (we always think together with the client) and assumptions about your client (people want comfort). Finally, you have assumptions about your products.
If you make tables, there are many assumptions connected with it. It has legs; it is for eating, it is for sitting together, it is for working, it is for social meetings, etc. When you research these assumptions you will notice that families mostly not eat at the same time on the same table anymore, everyone is eating at different times in different places. If you design a new table (see image below) on which you can only eat when four persons support the table with their bellies, immediately you will sell a product that contributes to more social interactions in families.
An artwork by Caroline Kvist
The secret of the business of tomorrow is to connect and contribute. Can you deliver goods and services that improve the lives of your consumers by creating a new meaning for them? A product that gives satisfaction on short-term but unhappiness on the long run will not sustain (click here to read article: Apple shareholders urge company to take action over children’s smartphone addiction)
To be a strong company, you need a purpose that has an impact on the lives of ordinary people. By analyzing your assumptions, you can discover new qualities and new meanings of your organization. You can transform your team in an agile, intelligent group of people by eliminating the assumptions that are connected with the way your team is organized. Finance department people think they only have to deal with the numbers, marketing just looks at the end game, HMR looks at the problems of your workers. If you quit the silos and the hierarchy you can unleash a lot of hidden knowledge which they keep “on lock,” because of the strong assumptions.
When your company transforms into an agile collective intelligence, with strong collective attention, you can research general cultural assumptions. You can deliver services and products that go against mainstream thoughts but connects to deep human desires.
Isn’t that a beautiful challenge?