In the film 22 Jump Street, a student dies.

Two undercover cops have a black and white photo of someone selling her drugs and try to find out what happened to her.

Except, unfortunately, it’s a dead end. Why?

Because she was the dealer. They wasted all their time because they had based it all on the assumption that she was buying, not selling.

So this got me thinking about the assumptions made in HR and how policies are built on the basis of these assumptions.

Here are a couple I came up with:

Happy workers are more productive workers
Employees want to be engaged with their jobs

Beau Lotto, renowned professor at UCL and neuroscientist specialising in perception research, says that the way to dig ourselves out of ruts – be they intellectual, innovative, technical – is to ask a question. Questions are the key to beating assumptions.

Why are some people happier and not others?
Does being happy make you more efficient?
What are we doing that is turning off employees?
Why is our response rate to surveys below 50%?

My personal favourite is this one:

During this process, what am I doing that I’m doing simply because I’ve done it this way before?

That question, to me, is the key to innovation.