Reversing Assumptions Technique

Creativity Techniques

reversal of assumptionsCreativity expert Michael Michalko shares a cool technique we can use to notice our assumptions and spark new creative thinking.

An easy way to challenge assumptions is to simply reverse them and try to make the reversal work.

The guidelines are:

∙ List your assumptions about a subject.

∙ Challenge your fundamental assumptions by reversing them. Write down the opposite of each assumption.

∙ Ask yourself how to accomplish each reversal. List as many useful viewpoints as you can.


Suppose, for example, you want to start a novel restaurant.

1. You would begin by listing the assumptions you make about restaurants. One assumption might be: All restaurants have menus, either written, verbal or implied.

2. Next, you would reverse this to: I will start a restaurant that does not have a menu of any kind.

3. Now, look for ways to make the “reversal” work and list every idea you can. “How can I operate a viable restaurant that does not have a menu?”

4. One idea would be to have the chef come to the table and display what the chef bought that day at the meat market, fish market and vegetable market. The customer checks off the ingredients he or she likes and the chef prepares a special dish based on the “selected” ingredients. The chef also names the dish after the customer and prints out the recipe for the customer to take home. You might call the restaurant “The Creative Chef.”

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