Embracing the Unknown: Dropping Assumptions through Improvisation

Our minds are wired to make assumptions. 

These assumptions help us navigate the world with a semblance of predictability and efficiency. 

Yet, acting on assumptions can hinder growth and stifle innovation. The principles of improvisation, particularly the practice of dropping assumptions, offer powerful strategies to foster a more adaptive, creative, and collaborative work environment.

In the first part of our discussion on assumptions, we explored why dropping assumption matters and how you can apply improv in the workplace.


The Downside of Assumptions

Assumptions are often based on past experiences, stereotypes, and incomplete information. While they can simplify decision-making processes, they also create blind spots. In a workplace setting, assumptions about colleagues’ capabilities, customer preferences, or market conditions can lead to missed opportunities, misunderstandings, and conflicts. For example, assuming a team member is uninterested in a project because they haven’t spoken up could prevent valuable contributions and ideas from surfacing.


Improvisation, a technique commonly associated with comedy and theater, hinges on spontaneity and the ability to adapt to unexpected scenarios. At its core, improvisation teaches us to be present, listen actively, and respond constructively—skills that are invaluable in a professional setting.


Practical Steps to Implement Improvisational Principles That Help You Drop Assumptions

Dropping assumptions is not just a technique for actors on a stage—it’s a powerful approach that can transform workplace dynamics.

Practical Steps to Drop Assumptions

  1. Self-Reflection: Regularly take time to reflect on your own assumptions. Question why you believe certain things and whether these beliefs are based on facts or unchallenged perceptions.
  2. Ask for Feedback: Encourage open and honest feedback from colleagues. This can help to identify and challenge any assumptions you may hold about your role, your work, or your team.
  3. Mindfulness Practices: Mindfulness can increase your awareness of your thoughts and assumptions. Practices such as meditation or journaling can help you to become more conscious of when you are making assumptions and how to let them go.
  4. Stay Curious: Whether through formal training or casual conversations, seeking out new information and perspectives can help to dispel outdated assumptions and open your mind to new possibilities.
  5. Create a Safe Space for Experimentation: Encourage a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and experimenting without the fear of failure. Regular brainstorming sessions, where the “Yes, And…” approach is practiced, can help in nurturing this environment.
  6. Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Actively seek to include diverse perspectives within your team. Diverse backgrounds and experiences can challenge existing assumptions and lead to more comprehensive and innovative solutions.


By applying improvisational techniques to the workplace, organizations can cultivate a more resilient, creative, and collaborative workforce. The next time you catch yourself making an assumption, pause, take a step back, and ask yourself: What if I approached this situation as an improviser?