The Ladder

of Inference

How Presumptions Can Serve Productivity

By Micki McMillan, MCC

Published 06-03-2011

The Same, Yet Different
"Profits are down," Anne Marie, a hospital CEO says. She reviews the numbers with Marty, the CFO, and Carmen, the Patient Care Executive. Then she asks them to both work up a response to the situation. As Marty and Carmen think through their options, it becomes clear that, even given the same facts, they have different beliefs about how to respond (Fig. 1).

The Ladder of Inference
An inference is a belief, opinion or conclusion reached through the gathering of data; based on personal or cultural experience; and supported by premises assumed to be true. Inferences, while often perceived to be facts (or observations), are in fact assessments.

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Anyone can become angry...But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - this is not easy.