Assumption Busting

Assumption Busting is a brainstorming and questioning technique that identifies and challenges conventional assumptions and consequently eliminates them if they are obstacles to optimal solution.


  • Duration
    Short (up to 30 minutes)
  • Complexity
  • Group size
    1 to 20 persons

This activity is suitable online.

Description Long

Our brains rely heavily on its ability to recognize, remember and use patterns to become more efficient and effective. However, the reliance on the patterns limits our thinking since assumptions could act as blind spots in the creativity processes. Assumption Busting method is a useful remedy against patterned thinking. By consciously examining and recognizing the assumptions that exist in our thinking patterns, the human brains will be able to alter such assumptions and re-frame our understanding of a situation or challenge.



  1. Where do you feel stuck? Identify a problem or situation on which you want to work.


  1. Topic: Explain the participants which Problem or Situation you want to work on.
  2. Gather data: Ask the participants to ask for the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Make a list of everything you know, think and feel about the situation. These are your assumptions.
  3. Deepen: Pick an assumption and make a list of assumptions about the assumption.
  4. Bust Assumptions: Choose one of the deepened assumptions and reverse it. Restate it in its opposite form.
  5. What if? Now take this reversed statement and use the stem "What if?" and make a list of questions that make this reversed statement more true or that expand your understanding of the assumption.
  6. Results: Show the results to the other participants.

Hints from experience

List any ideas, facts, and assumptions regardless of how obvious and superficial they are.

Tools list

  • Paper and pencil


Dugan, Maggie., & Dunne, T. (2007). Assumption Busting: Breaking Patterns to Find New Ideas. Retrieved from

Five Whys,. (2012). Assumption Busting. Retrieved 30 July 2015, from,. Assumption Busting. Retrieved 30 July 2015, from

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