March 29, 2024

Avoiding The Assumption Gap

When an expert is hired by a non-expert to provide a service, there is, by definition, a knowledge gap.

A knowledge gap is fine. It’s not a problem. The real problem is what I call “The Assumption Gap.”

Here’s a quick definition:

The Assumption Gap—the delta between what an expert service provider believes is obvious and what a non-expert client believes is obvious.

The problem with The Assumption Gap in a service context is that the buyer and seller don’t find out about it until it’s too late - i.e., the service has been rendered, and the client is not happy.

Here are some examples:

Situations like these are painful. They are costly, stressful, and disruptive to both parties.

So, how do you avoid The Assumption Gap?

One reliable way to avoid getting bitten by The Assumptions Gap is:

  1. For the seller (i.e., the expert) to uncover the desired outcome of the buyer (i.e., the non-expert), and
  2. For the seller to uncover how the buyer is going to measure the success of the engagement.

Once these two criteria are uncovered, the seller can decide whether or not they believe they can satisfy the buyer.

At no point is it necessary for the seller to educate the buyer about the nuance and complexity of their craft.