2.1 Implicit and explicit assumptions

Working through the tool will involve gathering evidence. You are likely to have made assumptions about your evidence, and it’s important to reflect on and test these assumptions, whether they are implicit (also known as tacit) or explicit assumptions.

  • Implicit assumptions are those that haven’t been articulated. We make implicit assumptions based on our personal experience and position, often without even realising that that’s what we’re doing. For example, if your organisation works with a mixture of paid employees and volunteers, there could be an implicit assumption for many that the paid employees are the real experts and therefore somehow ‘better’ at their role. Implicit assumptions are generally harder to identify and require some honest self-awareness.
  • Explicit assumptions are those that have been expressed and shared. For example, if your organisation has a policy of using paid employees to check the work of volunteers, this is based on an expressed assumption that volunteers are less skilled and experienced than paid employees. This explicit assumption is likely to be drawn from experience, where the majority of volunteers are perhaps young and at an early stage in their careers.

Key point

Evidence planning provides the opportunity to test all the assumptions that have been made within the justification for your project or activity.

Activity 2

Timing: Allow around 10 minutes for this activity

Identify the correct implicit assumption in each of the following statements:

a. There’s nothing wrong with using a mobile phone during church; other people do it all the time.

a. 

Using a mobile phone in church is right.


b. 

If other people do something, it can’t be wrong.


The correct answer is b.

b. Stealing from the bank isn’t as bad as stealing from a real person.

a. 

There are no real people behind the facade of the bank.


b. 

Stealing is alright in some circumstances.


The correct answer is a.

c. Marking students at a fail grade will damage their confidence, therefore we shouldn’t fail students.

a. 

Students should not fail.


b. 

We should not damage students’ self-confidence.


The correct answer is b.

d. I know that a boy and girl are dating because I saw them holding hands.

a. 

Only people who are dating hold hands.


b. 

Only a boy and a girl can date.


The correct answer is a.

e. He didn’t say anything when I asked, so it must be that he doesn’t know.

a. 

He didn’t say anything because he can’t speak.


b. 

The only reason for not talking about something is lack of knowledge.


The correct answer is b.

f. People are not engaging with our website, so it must be that they don’t know where to find it.

a. 

People only engage with our website when they can find it.


b. 

If people were finding our website, they would be engaging with it.


The correct answer is b.

2 The Evidence Planning Tool approach

2.2 Case study: using the tool