I often challenge my clients to attack their assumptions – the shared beliefs that go unquestioned yet drive strategic decisions, and if wrong, can be disastrous.
Traveling in the Middle East has caused me to attack some of my assumptions. Like many Westerners, my belief was that the abeyya, the black cloak seen on many Islamic women, is an austere garment worn either by those with fundamentalist religious beliefs or those who are repressed. While undoubtedly true in some cases, what I’ve learned in Oman and Jordan is more complex. Far from being austere, many abeyyas have fashionable design elements like colored silk accents, embroidery and beadwork. And speaking of fashion, don’t be surprised to find that abeyyas are worn over the latest skinny jeans, high heels, and attention-grabbing jewelry.
Many women consider the abeyya a natural and modest over-garment for going out in public. Going without would make them feel about as comfortable as a Manhattan banker going into a board meeting without a suit.
What does this have to do with you, an organizational leader?
Attack your assumptions. Assumptions about your customers, competitors and suppliers. Who they are, how they think, and what they want and value.
Attack your assumptions. You just might find the truth cloaked in mystery.