Intentional Insights Intentional Insights blog brought to you by History News Network. Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 Zend_Feed_Writer 2 (http://framework.zend.com) https://new.hnn.us/blog/author/48 Is There Anything We Can Do to Stop Politicians from Lying? Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is the author of the forthcoming The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide and is currently writing The Alternative to Alternative Facts: Fighting Post-Truth Politics with Behavioral Science. He is aprofessor of history at Ohio State University and President of the nonprofit Intentional Insights. This article is part of the author’s broader work on promoting rational thinking and wise decision-making. To learn more about The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook book and be notified of its publication, click on this link. He blogs here at Intentional Insights on HNN. 

We are in unprecedented historical territory when a Senator calls the President of his own political party “an utterly untruthful President” as Bob Corker did in regard to Donald Trump, and when another Senator from the same party, Jeff Flake, describes the President as having a "flagrant disregard of truth.” Consider the recent example of Trump making false statements about his phone conversation with a Gold Star widow, and then doubling and tripling down on them. For a more policy-oriented example, recall how Donald Trump’s rally speech in Phoenix on August 22 was full of falsehoods. He gave a revisionist and false history of his reaction to the Charlottesville violence to make himself look better, made false statements about media reporting and misled the audience over his economic achievements. Trump’s actions point to the normalization of post-truth politics, when appeals to personal beliefs and emotion win out over objective facts. To avoid this normalization, we need to borrow the successful tactics of the environmental movement.

Trump’s behavior – the speech and the attacks on the Gold Star widow – represents part of a broader pattern: Of Trump’s statements fact-checked by Politifact, an astounding 49 percent are false. By comparison, his Democratic opponent in the U.S. presidential election, Hillary Clinton, has 12 percent of her fact checked statements rated false; 14 percent of Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s are.

Despite Trump’s extremely high rate of deception, many still believe him. As an example, 44 percent of those polled believed his falsehoods about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign. Unfortunately, 29 percent of the public, and only 12 percent of Trump supporters, trust fact checkers.

Moreover, research on debunking falsehoods shows such debunking sometimes backfires. Called the backfire effect, scientists have shown in a number of cases people believe in falsehoods even more strongly after being presented with contradictory evidence. This situation enables Trump to pollute our politics with deception, destroying trust in our democratic political system.

Political and social science research summarized in the 2003 Trust and Governance, edited by Valerie Braithwaite and Margaret Levi, shows trust is vital for healthy democracies. Citizens in a democracy have a basic expectation of their public officials being trustworthy, in their words and actions. In return, citizens comply with laws, pay taxes and cooperate with other government initiatives. By comparison to a democracy, an autocratic state bears a much higher resource burden of policing to make its citizens comply with its laws. In his 2002 work, Trust and Trustworthiness, political scientist Russell Hardin also shows the vital role of trust in creating and cultivating civil society in a democracy. When political leaders act in ways that destroy trust—as Trump is doing through misleading statements and outright lies—people will increasingly stop complying with laws, paying taxes and engaging in civil society. Trump’s actions are fatally undermining the health of our democracy.

His behavior falls within the sphere of what behavioral scientists term “tragedy of the commons,” following a famous 1968 article in Science by Garret Hardin. Hardin demonstrated that in areas where a group of people share a common resource—the commons—without any controls on the use of this resource, individual self-interest may often lead to disaster for all involved. Because each individual may well have a strong interest in using more of the common resource than is their fair share, all suffer the consequences of the depletion of that resource. Environmental pollution is a clear example where the common resource of clean air and water is abused by polluters who destroy this shared resource.

Trump is abusing the commons of trust in our political environment, and he is setting a clear example for other politicians to follow through his successful tactics. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin are adopting the post-truth tactics of condemning media as “fake news” whenever the media report stories unfavorable to them. As an example, Bevin personally attacked a journalist who reported on Bevin’s purchase of a mansion for about a million dollars under market value from a hedge fund manager, which some suggested might be a bribe in return for under-the-table political favors. Such trickle-down of post-truth politics points to its normalization within our political system, thus enabling corruption and undermining our democracy.

How do we stop this pollution of truth? The modern environmental movement has been dealing successfully with a tragedy of the commons: industrial pollution. The historical consensus is that the launch of the modern environmental movement came with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962. This and other similar publications brought about an awakening of the public to the dangers posed by environmental pollution to individual and community health, and led to the coordinated movement of activists—Republican and Democrat—fighting for the environment.

As a result, environmental problems drew much wider public attention. Consider the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. The river has had a long history of pollution, and in June 1969 oil-covered debris caught fire, causing $100,000 worth of damage to two railroad bridges. This event drew national attention and became a major story in Time. Cleveland’s mayor testified before Congress to urge greater attention to pollution by the federal government. Notably, the Cuyahoga River had experienced many other fires due to industrial pollution, such as one in 1952 that resulted in over $1.3 million in damage—10 times that which incurred in 1969. This much bigger and more destructive fire, however, inspired little national attention—or efforts to change the situation—as compared with the conflagration of 1969.

The marked difference in the reaction to the two fires stemmed from the launch of the modern environmental movement, combining the coordinated actions of activists to seek out and highlight these problems with heightened public attention awareness of the danger of environmental pollution. We can do the same for the pollution of truth by launching a nonpartisan pro-truth movement. Such a movement would require a coordinated group of activists holding public figures accountable for deception as well as publicly highlighting the danger that post-truth politics poses to the health of our democracy.

Whereas the 1960s required the publication of books to raise awareness and launch a movement, our contemporary digital environment gives us easier tools. One example is the Pro-Truth Pledge project at ProTruthPledge.org, which allows private citizens and public figures to take a pledge committing them to 12 behaviors that research suggests are most likely to lead to a truth-oriented society. This site both offers a coordination venue for those determined to roll back the tide of lies and protect our democracy, and raises awareness of the dangers of political deception. Hundreds of private citizens across the U.S. and many dozens of public figures have already taken the pledge, including household names such as Peter SingerJonathan Haidt, and Steven Pinker as well as over 50 Democratic and Republican politicians.

By launching a pro-truth movement uniting people across the political divide, we can avoid the normalization of post-truth politics. Doing so will help ensure that the kind of falsehoods uttered by Trump get a response equivalent to the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga river, rather than the 1952 one. Whether the pro-truth movement takes off depends on how many people choose to take the pledge and join the effort to protect the health of our democracy from the pollution of truth.

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Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154001 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154001 0
The Behavioral Science of Political Deception in the 2016 Election Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is the author of The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. He is an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University, President of the nonprofit Intentional Insights, and co-founder of the Pro-Truth Pledge.Caption: Head with brain and puzzle pieces (Geralt/Pixabay)

How did Donald Trump win, when he used so many misleading statements and outright deceptions? Couldn’t people see through them? As an expert in brain science, I want to share why his followers fell for his lies and what can be done to address this situation in the future.

First, let’s get the facts straight. Politifact.com, a well-known non-partisan website, rates only about 4 percent of statements by Trump as fully “True” and over 50 percent as either completely “False” or what they call ridiculously false – “Pants on Fire,” with the rest in the middle. By comparison, Hillary Clinton rated 25 percent as fully “True” and only 12 percent as either “False” or “Pants on Fire.”

The Washington Post, one of the most reputable newspapers in the country, wrote that “There’s never been a presidential candidate like Donald Trump — someone so cavalier about the facts and so unwilling to ever admit error, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.” In their rulings on statements made by Trump, this paper’s editors evaluated 64 percent of them as Four Pinocchios, their worst rating. By contrast, statements by other politicians tend to get the worst rating 10 to 20 percent of the time.

These sentiments are representative of other prominent news media and fact-check outlets, yet according to an ABC News/Washington post poll, most voters on the eve of the election perceivedDonald Trump as more trustworthy than Hillary Clinton. This false perception came from the Trump campaign building up on previous Republican criticism of Clinton, much of it misleading and some accurate, to manipulate successfully many voters into believing that Clinton is less honest, in spite of the evidence that she is much more honest than Trump. The Trump campaign did so through the illusory truth effect, a thinking error in our minds that happens when false statements are repeated many times and we begin to see them as true. In other words, just because something is stated several times, we perceive it as more accurate.

You may have noticed the last two sentences in the previous paragraph had the same meaning. The second sentence didn’t provide any new information, but it did cause you to believe my claim more than you did when you read the first sentence.

The Biology of Truth Vs. Comfort

Why should the human brain be structured so that mere repetition, without any more evidence, causes us to believe a claim more strongly? The more often we are exposed to a statement, the more comfortable it seems. The fundamental error most people make is mistaking statements that make them feel comfortable for true statements.

Our brains cause us to believe something is true because we feel it is true, regardless of the evidence – a phenomenon known as emotional reasoning. This strange phenomenon can be easily explained by understanding some basic biology behind how our brain works.

When we hear a statement, the first thing that fires in our brain in a few milliseconds is our autopilot system of thinking, composed of our emotions and intuitions. Also known as System 1, the autopilot system is what the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Daniel Kahneman identified as our two systems of thinking in his 2011 Thinking, Fast and Slow, and represents the more ancient system of our brain. It protected us in the ancestral environment against dangerous threats such as saber-toothed tigers by making us feel bad about them and drew us toward what we needed to survive such as food and shelter by making us feel good about them. The humans who survived learned well to heed the autopilot system’s guidance, and we are the children of these humans.

Unfortunately, the autopilot system is not well calibrated for the modern environment. When we hear statements that go against our current beliefs, our autopilot system perceives them as threats and causes us to feel bad about them. By contrast, statements that align with our existing beliefs cause us to feel good and we want to believe them. So if we just go with our gut reactions – our lizard brain – we will always choose statements that align with our current beliefs.

Meme saying “Lizard brain thinking is killing democracy – Please think rationally”  (Ed Coolidge, made for Intentional Insights)

Where Do We Get Our News?

Until recently, people got all their news from mainstream media, which meant they were often exposed to information that they didn’t like because it did not fit their beliefs. The budget cuts and consolidation of media ownership in the last decade resulted in mainstream media getting increasingly less diverse, well described in the 2009 Media Ownership and Concentration in America by Eli Noam. Moreover, according to a 2016 survey by Pew Research Center, many peopleare increasingly getting their news mainly or only from within their own personalized social media filter bubble, which tends to exclude information that differs from their own beliefs. So their own beliefs are reinforced and it seems that everyone shares the same beliefs as them.

This trend is based on a traditional strong trust in friends as sources of reliable recommendations, according to the 2015 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report. Our brains tend to spread the trust that we associate with friends to other sources of information that we see on social media. This thinking error is known as the halo effect when our assessment of one element of a larger whole as positive transfers to other elements. We can see this in research showing that people’s trust in social media influencers has grown over time, nearly to the level of trust in their friends, as shown by a 2016 joint study by Twitter and analytics firm Annalect.

Even more concerning, a 2016 study from Stanford University demonstrated that over 80 percent of students, who are generally experienced social media users, could not distinguish a news story shared by a friend from a sponsored advertisement. In a particularly scary finding, many of the study’s participants thought a news story was true based on irrelevant factors such as the size of the photo, as opposed to rational factors such as the credibility of the news source outlet.

The Trump team knows that many people have difficulty distinguishing sponsored stories from real news stories and that’s why they were at the forefront of targeting voters with sponsored advertorials on social media. In some cases they used this tactic to motivate their own supporters, and in others they used it as a voter suppression tactic against Clinton supporters. The Trump campaign’s Republican allies created fake news stories that got millions of shares on social media. The Russian propaganda machine has also used social media to manufacture fake news stories favorable to Trump and critical of Clinton.

Additionally, Trump’s attacks on mainstream media and fact-checkers before the election, and even after the election, undercut the credibility of news source outlets. As a result, trust in the media amongst Republicans dropped to an all-time low of 14 percent in a September 2016 Gallup poll, a drop of over 200 percent from 2015. Fact-checking is even less credible among Republicans, with 88 percent expressing distrust in a September 2016 Rasmussen Reports poll.

All this combined in the unprecedented reliance on and sharing of fake news by Trump’s supporters on social media. With the rise of the Tea Party, a new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University used Politifact to find that Republicans have tended to make many more false statements than Democrats. Lacking trust in the mainstream media and relying on social media instead, a large segment of Trump’s base indiscriminately shared whatever made them feel good, regardless of whether it was true. Indeed, one fake news writer, in an interview with The Washington Post, said of Trump supporters: “His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything.” No wonder that Trump’s supporters mostly believe his statements, according to polling. By contrast, another creator of fake news, in an interview with NPR, described how he “tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait” due to them practicing fact-checking and debunking.

Meme saying “People are most comfortable dealing with reality in terms of black or white, but reality tends to like shades of grey”  (Wayne Straight, made for Intentional Insights)

This fact-checking and debunking illustrates that the situation, while dismal, is not hopeless. Such truth-oriented behaviors rely on our other thinking system, the intentional system or system 2, as shown by Chip and Dan Heath in their 2013’s Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. The intentional system is deliberate and reflective. It takes effort to use but it can catch and override the thinking errors committed by system 1 so that we do not adopt the belief that something is true because we feel it is true, regardless of the evidence.

Many liberals associate positive emotions with empirical facts and reason, which is why their intentional system is triggered into doing fact-checking on news stories. Trump voters mostly do not have such positive emotions around the truth, and believe in Trump’s authenticity on a gut level regardless of the facts. This difference is not well recognized by the mainstream media, who treat their audience as rational thinkers and present information in a language that communicates well to liberals, but not to Trump voters.

To get more conservatives to turn on the intentional system when evaluating political discourse we need to speak to emotions and intuitions – the autopilot system, in other words. We have to get folks to associate positive emotions with the truth first and foremost, before anything else.

To do so, we should understand where these people are coming from and what they care about, validate their emotions and concerns, and only then show, using emotional language, the harm people suffer when they believe in lies. For instance, for those who care about safety and security, we can highlight how it’s important for them to defend themselves against being swindled into taking actions that make the world more dangerous. Those concerned with liberty and independence would be moved by emotional language targeted toward keeping themselves free from being used and manipulated. For those focused on family values, we may speak about trust being abused.

These are strong terms that have deep emotional resonance. Many may be uncomfortable with using such tactics of emotional appeals. We have to remember the end goal of helping people orient toward the truth. This is a case where ends do justify the means. We need to be emotional to help people grow more rational – to make sure that while truth lost the battle, it will win the war.

P.S. To learn more about truth-seeking strategies in politics and other life areas, check out the article author’s book, The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide.

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Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154002 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154002 0
Roy Moore's Systemic Danger to Our Democracy Wikimedia commons) 

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is the author of the forthcoming The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. One of the lead creators of the Pro-Truth Pledge, he is a professor at Ohio State and President of the nonprofit Intentional Insights. Connect with Dr. Gleb Tsipursky on Twitter, on Facebook, and on LinkedIn, and follow his RSS feed and newsletter.  

The front-runner candidate for Alabama Senate, Republican Roy Moore, called The Washington Post “fake news” after the newspaper published a thorough investigation reporting on sexual encounters between Moore and multiple teenage girls, one as young as 14. Moore’s attacks on this highly-reputable newspaper are part of a recent broader pattern of prominent public figures using the label of “fake news” to denounce quality investigative journalism that reveals corruption and abuse of power. Such attacks pose an urgent and systemic danger to our democracy, as they encourage corruption and abuse of power by undermining credible media reporting on such behavior.

As a high-quality, well-respected venue, The Washington Post would not publish such a controversial story without a thorough investigation. The article was based on multiple interviews with over 30 people who knew Moore at the time the sexual encounters happened, between 1977 and 1982. The journalists were careful to paint a balanced story, including some negative facts about the women who accused Moore, such as divorces and bankruptcies.

Perhaps most telling of the high quality of reporting and credibility of the newspaper is the fact that a number of prominent Republican leaders are calling on Moore to withdraw from the race. Immediately after The Post publishes its story, Republican Senator John McCain called for Moore to step aside immediately, and Montana Senator Steve Daines withdrew his endorsement, as did Utah Senator Mike Lee. After a fifth woman stepped forward to accuse Moore independently of The Post’s story, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that Moore “should step aside,” and so did Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

On the other hand, Republicans well-known for making false accusations of mainstream media outlets being “fake news” defended Moore and supported his attack on The Post. For example, former Donald Trump adviser and head of Breitbart Stephen Bannon accused the The Post of being “purely part of the apparatus of the Democratic Party” for conducting its thorough investigation. Prominent Virginia Republican Corey Stewart also refused to criticize Moore and instead attacked the newspaper. A number of Fox News commentators, such as Gregg Jarrett, also attacked The Post.

Unfortunately, these attacks on quality investigative reporting represent part of a broader trend of conservative politicians across the country adopting the tactic of condemning media as “fake news” whenever there are stories unfavorable to them. As an example, Republican Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin tweeted that the reporter Tom Loftus of the largest newspaper in Kentucky, The Courier-Journal, is “a truly sick man” for “sneaking around” Bevin’s manor. Loftus at the time was working on a story about how Bevin faced an ethics complaint over an accusation of bribery for purchasing this manor for about a million dollars below market price from a local investor, Neil Ramsey. Apparently, shortly before getting a million-dollar discount on this manor, Bevin appointed Ramsey to the Kentucky Retirement Board, which oversees $16 billion in investments.

Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie used a similar approach when caught abusing his power. He ordered a number of state-run beaches in New Jersey closed on June 30, yet he used a closed state beach in Island Beach State Park for himself and his family on July 2. Reporters for New Jersey’s largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger, secretly photographed him and his family using the beach. When asked about whether he was on the beach that day, Christie denied it. When confronted with photographic proof, Christie did not acknowledge and apologizing for his lies and his abuse of power in using a closed public beach for the benefit of himself and his family. He instead attacked The Star-Ledger for its reporting.

Without the attacks on the media, the investigations of Christie and Bevin would have simply revealed the sordid affairs of corruption and abuse of power. Our democracy would have worked correctly with voters appropriately getting the important information from credible sources, the largest newspapers in Kentucky and New Jersey. With these accusations, Bevin and Christie distract attention from the corruption and abuse of power, and instead present themselves as fighters against supposed media bias.

In doing so, Moore, Bevin, Christie and many others are tapping the anti-media bias of the Republican base inflamed by Trump’s attacks on the media. He has expressed pride over his branding of high-quality venues like “CBS, and NBC, and ABC, and CNN” as “fake news.” We are now reaping the whirlwind of politicians caught engaged in immoral, abusive, and corrupt behavior using Trump’s anti-media rhetoric to protect themselves and continue engaging in such activities.

Now, it doesn’t mean that Democrats will not try similar tactics. For example, the prominent film director Harvey Weinstein, a well-known and high-profile fundraiser for and influencer in the Democratic Party, accused The New York Times of publishing fake news when they revealed his sexual harassment. However, neither the Democratic base nor prominent Democrats bought this accusation, and Weinstein was quickly ousted from his leading roles.

By contrast, Bevin’s popularity in the polls was climbing in Kentucky, a conservative state, at the same time that he was making his accusations. Moore has continued to be staunchly supported by the Alabama Republican Party and base, despite the accusations and the withdrawal of support from many mainstream Republicans. Only in New Jersey, a liberal-leaning state, did voters express discontent over Christie’s behavior.

However, all of us – regardless of our party affiliation – will be greatly harmed if politicians are able to get away with corruption, immorality, and abuse of power through labeling of credible media sources as fake news. This tactic is posing an existential and systemic threat to our democracy, and we must do everything possible toprotect quality journalism and overall promote truthful behavior.

P.S. Want to promote truth and fight lies? Take the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org, get your friends to take it, and call on your elected representatives to do so.

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Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154012 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154012 0
How to Address Truth Denialism Effectively Over the Holidays Thomas Guest/Flickr)

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is the author of The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. He is an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University, President of the nonprofit Intentional Insights, and co-founder of the Pro-Truth Pledge.

It’s the holiday season, which means plenty of opportunities for uncomfortable interactions with friends and family who are truth deniers. For example, my close friend invited me to her holiday party recently, where I sat across the table from her brother Mike. We got to talking about Donald Trump’s recently-successful efforts to ban people from many majority-Muslim countries from entering the US and his retweeting of anti-Muslim videos.

Mike strongly supported Trump’s ban and rhetoric, and other anti-Muslim policies. By the end of that meal, he grew to be much more tolerant and inclusive of Muslims. To get him to update his beliefs  – something I do regularly during interviews with conservative talk show hosts –  I relied on my research on how to get people to accept the facts, specifically a strategy that can be summarized under the acronym EGRIP (Emotions, Goals, Rapport, Information, Positive Reinforcement).

The typical response to truth deniers of presenting facts and arguing is generally not effective in changing people’s minds on charged issues. Research on the confirmation bias shows that people tend to look for and interpret information in ways that conforms to their beliefs. Moreover, studies on the backfire effect reveal that when people are presented with facts that challenge their identity, they sometimes develop a stronger attachment to their incorrect belief as a defense mechanism.

If someone denies clear facts, you can safely assume that it’s their emotions that are leading them away from reality. You need to deploy the skill of empathy, meaning understanding other people’s emotions, to determine what emotional blocks might cause them to deny reality. In Mike’s case, it was relatively easy to figure out the emotions at play by making a guess based on what research shows about what conservatives value: security. I confirmed my suspicion through active listening and using curiosity to question Mike about his concerns about Muslims, and he shared extensively his fears about all Muslims being potential terrorists.

Next, establish shared goals for both of you, crucial for effective knowledge sharing. With Mike, I talked about how we both want security for our society. I also pointed out how sometimes our emotions lead us astray. We might want to eat all the Yule log on the table, but it would harm our health, so we should focus on our goals over our gut intuitions. We should also commit to the facts, as we want to avoid deceiving ourselves and thus undermining our safety and security. I told him that I - along with thousands of others - committed to the Pro-Truth Pledge and asked him to hold me accountable. He appreciated me sharing about this commitment, and it raised my credibility in his eyes. 

Third, build rapport. Using the empathetic listening you did previously, a vital skill in promoting trusting relationships, echo their emotions and show you understand how they feel. In the case of Mike, I echoed his fear and validated his emotions, telling him it’s natural to feel afraid when we see Muslims committing terrorism, and it’s where my gut goes as well.

Fourth, move on to sharing information. Here is where you can give the facts that you held back in the beginning. There were eight terrorist acts in the US motivated in part by Islamic beliefs in 2016, with nine terrorists in total. Given that there are about 1.8 million Muslim adults in the US, you have a one-in-200,000 chance that any Muslim you see would commit a terrorist act in one year. That's like picking out a terrorist randomly from the number of people in several football stadiums, and focusing our efforts on surveilling Muslims will make us less secure by causing us to miss the actual terrorists.

Moreover, the FBI praises Muslims for reporting threats, and anti-Muslim policies will make Muslims less likely to report threats. Besides, we already see Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric used to recruit terrorists in the US, and more anti-Muslim policies will only result in more materials to recruit terrorists. The key here is to show your conversation partner, without arousing a defensive or aggressive response, how their current truth denialism will lead to them undermining the shared goals we established earlier.

Mike was surprised and moved by this information, presented in an emotionally-sensitive manner. He agreed that anti-Muslim policies seem unwise, and we should be more tolerant and inclusive for the sake of increasing our security, even if that’s not how we intuitively feel. I offered positive reinforcement for his orientation toward the facts, a research-based tactic of encouraging people to change their identity.

Think of how much better your holiday dinner could go if you use EGRIP instead of arguing!

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Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154034 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154034 0
The GOP's Latest Scam Was to Convince the Base the Tax Law Is a Middle Class Tax Cut

Image of hand with Christmas gifts (Max Pixel)

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is the author of The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. He is an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University, President of the nonprofit Intentional Insights, and co-founder of the Pro-Truth Pledge.

President Donald Trump called the recently-passed tax bill “an incredible Christmas gift” for middle-class Americans. In reality, the tax bill takes money from the pockets of middle-class Americans and gives it to corporations. Anyone who claims the tax bill primarily benefits the middle class is spreading falsehoods.

With the new bill, the tax rate for corporations is reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent. That makes a total reduction of 40 percent from what they were paying earlier. Other benefits for corporations include doing away with the alternative minimum tax, along with many provisions that will reduce the taxes they do pay.

What about tax cuts for individuals? Consider a household making $50,000 to $75,000: the average tax cut for them is 1.6 percent, or $870. The wealthiest would get the biggest tax breaks, as a household earning over a million would see an average cut of $69,660, or 3.3 percent increase.

Unfortunately for individuals, the tax cuts they get are limited to 8 years, and expire after 2025. So without any changes, the same household making $50,000 to $75,000 would actually be paying $30 more in taxes after 2025. The wealthy would be much better off, with the average household making over a million getting a cut of more than $23,000 after 2025, along with a host of other benefits. Overall, after that date, households making over a million  –  approximately .6 percent of all taxpayers  –  would get 81.8 percent of the total benefit of this bill. By contrast, the corporate tax rate cuts are permanent, and will not expire.

This extremely disproportionate tax cut comes with a hefty price tag. The nonpartisan and authoritative congressional scorekeeper Joint Committee on Taxation found that the tax bill would cost approximately $1.4 trillion, which would be added to the existing $20 trillion national debt.

Who will now be responsible for paying the taxes to address this debt? Due to the extreme tax cut for corporations, individual American taxpayers will have a much bigger proportional tax burden in paying for the debt. Since the most wealthy had especially large tax breaks, and they tend to be the large shareholders in corporations that benefit from this law, middle-class Americans will be increasingly stuck with the tab for the debt. This is especially the case after 2025, when the tax breaks for individuals expire.

The Republican politicians who support the tax bill say it will pay for itself by creating jobs and improving the business climate, and thus in the end benefit the middle class. However, they are not experts at economics. The Joint Committee on Taxation, which is acknowledged as nonpartisan and expert by Democrats and Republicans alike, found that over 10 years the tax bill would produce $400 billion in revenue, leaving unpaid an additional $1 trillion. Likewise, a survey of top economists indicated that the vast majority believed the tax bill would not substantially improve the US economy, would substantially increase the debt burden, and would redistribute wealth from the middle class to corporations and the wealthy.

Deferring to expert analysis is a critical component of truthfulness. Any time we see someone  –  especially a politician  –  reject expert analysis, we should be very suspicious, and see whether they have hidden motivations to mislead us. After all, while politicians are not experts at economics, they are experts at getting elected. They have strong incentives to do what would get them elected and mislead the public if needed.

In the case of this tax bill, the hidden motives are quite obvious. For example, Representative Chris Collins, a New York Republican, told a reporter that “my donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again’” regarding the tax bill. According to Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, if the tax bill is not passed, the “financial contributions will stop."

In order to ensure they get elected, Republicans had to pass the tax bill in order to keep getting donations from the wealthy and corporations, who really pay attention to and know what is going on. Now, President Donald Trump is calling on his Republican colleagues to sell the tax bill to everyday voters, who pay much less attention to the details of tax policies.

Republicans have been misrepresenting the essence of the tax bill all along. They presented it as all about tax cuts to the middle class, even though the biggest cut has been for corporations. Repeating this falsehood invokes the illusory truth effect, a psychological phenomenon where a false statement repeated often enough becomes seen as true. Indeed, most of the Republican base bought these falsehoods, with around 60 percent thinking the bill primarily favors the middle class.

In reality, the tax bill falls into the classic category of trickle-down economics. This policy approach involves taking money from the middle class and giving it to corporations via such tax cuts. Republicans justify trickle-down economics by saying that corporations will use such money better than middle-class Americans, despite experts disagreeing with them about the growth resulting from the tax bill.

Historically, trickle-down economics has been most strongly associated with Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, Reagan’s economic policies had bad economic consequences. More recently, thorough analyses of trickle-down economics by such reputable organizations as the International Monetary Fund suggest that this approach does not stimulate economic growth. Instead giving money to the lowest income earners stimulates growth much more. However, that’s not what the tax bill does.

We may debate about the effectiveness of trickle-down economics. However, the more salient point is that the large majority of Republicans have not been courageous enough to say openly that this tax bill is an example of trickle-down economics. While we may disagree on whether trickle-down economics works, we should all agree that spreading falsehoods about the reality of the tax bill erodes our democracy.

Will the misrepresentations of the tax bill succeed or will the American people recognize the truth about this tax bill as taking money from the pockets of middle-class Americans and giving it to corporations? You can make a difference by calling out any politicians and journalists who misrepresent the tax bill and calling on them to commit publicly to truthful behavior, as well as committing to truthful behaviors yourself by taking the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org.

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Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154040 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154040 0
We Need to Address the Danger from Trump's Fake News Awards

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. He is anAssistant Professor at The Ohio State University, President of the nonprofit Intentional Insights, and co-founder of the Pro-Truth Pledge, which aims to unite all who care about facts and truth.

Donald Trump’s “Fake News Awards” for what he calls “the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media” have drawn mockery. However, behavioral science research suggests they are deadly serious. These awards create an institution for Trump’s relentless attacks on mainstream media and position Trump as the only voice who gets to determine truthful media. Unfortunately, the typical style of news coverage will perpetuate Trump’s agenda. However, a different style informed by behavioral science strategies would convey more accurate information and address the damage from the Fake News Awards.

The purpose of any award is to create an institutionalized way of promoting a certain cause through drawing public attention. As an example, consider perhaps the most well-known prize in the world, the Nobel Prize, awarded for the most important scientific and cultural advances. Every year, the media is filled with headlines describing the awards and their recipients, resulting in significant public attention that uplifts the importance of science and culture.

This attention taps into the “availability heuristic,” our tendency to assign excessive importance to whatever happens to be at the forefront of our minds, and the “priming effect,” where we perceive exaggerated connections between past and future stimuli. Thus, the Nobel Prize causes the public to focus on scientific and cultural achievements, and interpret future advances in light of the winners of last year’s Nobel Prize.

More subtly, an award positions the grantor of the award as the sole legitimate voice in determining who deserves the award. Several Swedish and Norwegian institutions decide who gets the various Nobel Prize awards. Perhaps the most prestigious one, the Nobel Peace Prize, is determined by a committee elected by politicians in the Norwegian Parliament. Thus, the internal domestic politics of Norway powerfully influence this prize.

In parallel, the Fake News Awards promote Trump’s attacks on mainstream media. In a January 2, 2018 tweet, he described the award as highlighting “Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories.” We can get a more clear nature of what he means by “various categories” from when Trump first tweeted on November 27, 2017 about handing out a fake news trophy for “the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me).”

Trump, in other words, aims to use the award to perpetuate the narrative of himself as the victim of unfair and dishonest mainstream media coverage: after all, he is well-known for using the label “fake news” to attack accurate news stories that he doesn’t like. The President will use these awards to draw massive public attention to supposed “fake news” coverage by mainstream news sources. In fact, he even delayed the granting of the awards due to the extensive public attention to the awards.

Official Fake News Trophy Featured in GOP Email 1/18/18

The availability heuristic will cause the public to focus on “fake news” in mainstream media’s coverage of the President, regardless of whether this coverage is accurate or not. The priming effect will move news consumers to be more likely to perceive negative coverage as fake.

Since such awards will likely be given annually, they will institutionalize Trump’s agenda of attacking the mainstream media, while also legitimating Trump as the grantor of these awards. He will get to determine which media venues get labeled as providing “the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted” coverage. You can bet that it will not be the media venues that actually are the most dishonest, but the ones that depict Trump in a negative light, regardless of how factual (or not) such depictions may be.

Some believe that Trump will lose credibility from granting these awards because he will draw attention to unflattering stories about himself. Unfortunately, behavioral science research suggests that the style of coverage by news media will facilitate Trump’s agenda.

The typical style of headlines about any awards generally focus on who got the awards. Unfortunately, research shows that only 41% of readers go beyond the headlines, with most getting their news from the headline alone. Many of the rest do not read beyond the first paragraph, which in most stories would summarize who received the awards and in what category. Even the ones who do go further will experience “anchoring,” a thinking error where the first information we get about a topic drastically colors our overall perspective. Yes, first impressions really do matter.

Studies reveal that the standard journalistic methods of correcting people’s misconceptions with accurate facts backfires in the long term. If you first state the false information and then provide evidence of why it is wrong, people will tend to forget over time the evidence for why it is wrong, and start to misremember the original falsehood as true. Thus, even though many articles covering the Fake News Awards will eventually explain that these awards are meant to perpetuate Trump’s attacks on mainstream media and were awarded at Trump’s sole discretion, the damage will already be done.

To prevent this outcome of media consumers getting the wrong impression about the Fake News Awards, mainstream media need to go against its typical style of reporting, and instead align its coverage with behavioral science research. Instead of headlines about who received the awards, headlines should say something like “In Yet Another Attack on the Media, Trump Issues Fake News Awards” so that the majority of their readers who only glance at the headlines get the right impression. The first paragraph of the article should focus on how this award attempts to perpetuate and institutionalize Trump’s attack on the media and position Trump as the sole voice of truth, before talking about who received the awards.

Articles on the awards should devote some space to the “Press Oppressors awards” issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists. These awards - issued in response to Trump’s announcement of the Fake News Awards - focus on world leaders “who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media.” Can you guess who received the “Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom” award?

You as a media consumer can encourage media venues to cover the Fake News Awards appropriately by writing letters-to-the-editor suggesting more appropriate coverage, or more simply by tweeting and emailing them with a link to this article. You can also encourage them to take the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org to commit to truthfulness. Consider taking the pledge yourself, which aims to unite all private citizens and public figures who care about truth and facts in our society.

You can also make sure to share only articles that cover the awards appropriately. When others post articles on social media with problematic coverage, you can make comments that give a more accurate impression and draw attention to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

You have the power to address the damage from these awards.

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Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154048 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154048 0
Winning At Life…By Not Losing

Caption: photo of woman playing tennis (Skeeze/Pixabay)

Guest post by Peter Livingstone

After hearing several references to a 1973 book called Extraordinary Tennis for the Ordinary Player by Simon Ramo, I decided to give it a read. I was wowed! It’s not because I used it to improve my game. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that I don’t play tennis, and I don’t plan to start because I read the book. What compelled and excited me was the bigger lesson conveyed by the book.

Ramo describes how in amateur tennis, about 80 percent of points are lost, not won. Lost points, as defined by Ramo, are those resulting from a player making an unforced error, such as hitting an easy return out-of-bounds, rather than hitting a brilliant shot that is impossible for an opponent to return. The lesson is that the vast majority of amateur tennis players will have much more success by working on “not losing,” rather than by trying to “win.”

I was struck by the fact that this simple idea is transferable to nearly every aspect of one’s life. Here’s how I think it can be applied to not be a loser in the game of life.

Caption: Photo of family playing "The Game of Life” (Kathryn/Flickr)

A Bit More About Dr. Ramo… and Tennis

Simon Ramo was a prominent American physicist, engineer, and businessman. Later in his life when he wanted to improve his tennis game, he applied the same rigorous, evidence-based approach that led to his successful career.

As a scientist and statistician, he gathered data by simply counting points won versus points lost. What he discovered is that in amateur tennis, the game’s outcome is determined by the player who makes the most mistakes. Thus, the best strategy to win in amateur tennis is to keep the ball in play, allowing the other player to make more errors. Occasionally, your opponent will hit a shot you can’t return. More frequently, however, he or she will hit it into the net or out-of-bounds, or fail to return it at all.

Keep in mind that Ramo discovered that outcomes in professional tennis work the opposite way - about 80 percent of points are won. That is, the professionals who win hit extraordinary shots that are essentially impossible to return. So, unless you are one of those professionals, the best way to win is to avoid losing!

Transferring Tennis Lessons to Life Lessons

Domain independence is the idea that certain knowledge may be applicable across other fields. I think Ramo’s insights into tennis can be considered domain independent for many other endeavors.

"In order to succeed it is necessary to know how to avoid the most likely ways to fail." When I first read this statement, referred to as Minsky’s Admonition in The Systems Bible, it struck me that it could have been lifted directly from Dr. Ramo’s book on tennis. Hyman Minsky was an American economist whose research attempted to provide an understanding and explanation of the characteristics of financial crises.

I doubt there was ever any collaboration between Ramo and Minsky, so I take this as evidence of domain independence. Two different people, researching two completely different subjects, have come to the same conclusion on achieving success!

Here are a few other areas where I think this concept may apply.

Investing

In the classic investment book Winning the Loser’s Game, Charles Ellis makes the case that investing works much the same way as tennis. Ellis proposes that most investors, like most tennis players, end up defeating themselves by making avoidable mistakes. Like Ramo, Ellis uses compelling mathematical evidence to make his arguments.

Consider, for example, some statistics: The average annual compounded return of the broad US stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, for the past 30 years was just over 10%. For that same period, the average individual investor in stock market funds achieved a return of slightly less than 4%. For an individual investing $300 a month in a retirement account over 30 years, this is a difference of having about $650,000 versus $200,000.

Why do most investors underperform the market by so much? While a fraction of the underperformance can be attributed to trading costs and other fees, Ellis explains that most investors are like amateurs playing tennis. That is, they think they can outperform the market by attempting brilliant, “winning” moves, but by doing so make unforced errors. One such error is trying to “time” the market through a pattern of buying and selling. Another error includes buying into “hot” funds or individual stocks - those that have had recent superior performance - and selling losers. These actions, more often than not, lead to buying high and selling low, the exact opposite of a winning strategy. Also, paying high fees to funds you expect to outperform will usually lead to underperformance. Funds that charge high fees, on average, underperform funds with low fees. One might get lucky once in awhile, but over time these actions lead to the huge discrepancy between the market performance and average individual performance.

What’s the best way to avoid these investment mistakes and achieve results close to the market average? It’s the same as in tennis: just work on “not losing." For individual investors with a long-term time horizon, the best option is to systematically invest in a low cost fund that tracks a broad market index, such as the S&P 500, or a global index such as the MSCI ACWI, which includes the US and most other world markets. Put your money into these investments incrementally over time and leave it there, at least until you are close to retirement.

Health and Fitness

Ramo lists a group of “don’ts” for tennis - those behaviors, characteristic of many amateur players, which should be eliminated. Simply focusing on reducing, and preferably eliminating, these actions can significantly improve one’s play. As in tennis, improvements in health and fitness can come from the elimination of harmful actions.

According to the ongoing Global Burden of Disease study, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the US and the world. Diet is the second highest risk factor after smoking. Many diet-related diseases are the result of overconsumption of calories in the form of simple sugars. Additionally, increasing death rates from the abuse of alcohol and opioids in the US has been widely acknowledged as a public health crisis.

It may take you a bit of reframing to view behaviors such as smoking, poor eating, and drug abuse as errors. Additionally, identifying these errors is usually pretty simple, but eliminating them can be extremely difficult. Behavior change is hard. Here is an article I found useful on how to avoid impulsive temptations, and one on building willpower.

Many of us think improving our fitness is only possible by adding activities to our routines, such as going to the gym or taking up running. Consider, however, some things we can eliminate to get actually more exercise.

How many times have you stood on an escalator, or ridden an elevator, only to find that someone who took the stairs arrived at the same destination as quickly as you? Do you have the opportunity to walk or ride a bike to some destinations, rather than take a car or bus?

By framing some of these modern conveniences as errors to eliminate, you may be able to improve your fitness without sacrificing time or money. There may be tremendous opportunity for improving your health and fitness by just working on eliminating some things you are doing, rather than doing more.

Diminishing Returns

Learning to avoid mistakes may be one of the fastest and easiest methods of improving. Have you ever noticed how quickly you can improve when you start learning something new, especially if you’ve had the opportunity to learn from a good coach or teacher? I’ve really enjoyed watching children learn a new activity from a good coach, whether it be playing a sport, or even a board game requiring some skill.

It seems to me that most of their improvement, at least initially, comes from learning how to avoid mistakes. Of course, those improvements usually tend to slow down over time, a phenomenon known as diminishing returns. As we improve, it naturally gets harder to keep up that rate of improvement, or learning curve. Perhaps most of that rapid improvement comes from simply learning to not make mistakes. Keep this in mind to avoid frustration. The more you improve, the harder it may be to become even better.

…But Will This Approach Lead To Mediocrity?

By now you may be thinking “If all I do is focus on not losing, won’t I just be mediocre in everything?” No doubt many of us can and do achieve greatness in some domains, but consider these two points:

1) Since no one starts off anything at a high level of expertise, why not begin by “not losing” and learn first to avoid errors?

2) Even people talented, dedicated, and lucky enough to achieve greatness in one or two fields will undoubtedly be closer to ordinary in many other areas. It is important to recognize at what, if anything, you are truly great or desire to be great, and what falls in your “ordinary” range.

Let’s consider an example of how someone at the top of their field could have used this approach for a better outcome in another endeavor. History is filled with many top performers in one field having disasters in other areas. In 2009, Sports Illustrated estimated that 78% of NFL players have gone bankrupt or have been in financial stress within two years of retirement, and that 60% of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. Considering that the average annual salary of these professionals in 2012 was about $2 million and $5 million, respectively, this seems unbelievable.

Sticking to our tennis theme, consider the case of Bjorn Borg. Undoubtedly the greatest tennis player of his time, and considered by many one of the greatest ever, Borg won 64 titles, including 11 Grand Slams, over a 10 year career. His tournament earnings alone, in today’s dollars, were about $15 million. Borg retired from professional tennis in 1983 and pursued business opportunities. By 1990 his companies collapsed and were declared bankrupt. In 2006, Borg was forced to sell off many of his trophies to achieve "financial security”.

According to tennis writer Richard Evans, Borg “was much too trusting. He made bad choices which led to bad luck.”

Perhaps Borg, and many other top athletes, fall into the trap of approaching personal finance in the same manner as winning in their professional field. Maybe Borg would have fared better by approaching his businesses and personal finances from an “ordinary” perspective, at least until he developed into an extraordinary businessman.

The Relativity of Ordinary

Being a scientist, Ramo paid homage to Albert Einstein by invoking the term relativity. What if, relative to your opponent, you are the equivalent of a pro? In this case, Ramo’s advice for tennis should not be taken as absolute, but should be adapted for the situation.

Perhaps, given a weaker opponent, you can benefit by trying a more aggressive court position, much like a professional. You can use this adaptation in other areas of life too. As you improve and get closer to a professional level, consider some actions that challenge your abilities. Just don’t try these during a critical “match” point. For example, if you’re just learning how to drive, you might want to practice in an empty parking lot, maneuvering around rubber cones, before you cruise through busy city streets. It’s OK to make some errors, providing you learn from them and you are willing to accept their consequences.

What if, on the other hand, you really are a pro player, but your play has become a little erratic and you are temporarily making more errors? It can be difficult admitting part of your game is ordinary. If this is your case, Ramo suggests considering that you may be only a bit ordinary. You are still eligible to benefit from working on winning by not losing, and by eliminating errors.

As Ramo puts it, you can improve, going from “ordinary” to “ex-ordinary,” whether or not you ever become extraordinary.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What are some areas in which you can benefit by taking the ordinary approach, as in working on not losing, and eliminating errors?

  • What are some actionable steps you can take to go from “ordinary” to “ex-ordinary”?

  • How can you apply a simple measurement of your performance, as Ramo did in tennis using points lost versus points won? ---

    Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. He is an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University, President of the nonprofit Intentional Insights, and co-founder of the Pro-Truth Pledge, which aims to unite all who care about facts and truth.
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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154050 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154050 0
    (Dis)Trust in Science: What Can We Do About the Scourge of Misinformation? Caption: Woman looking at homeopathic medicine (Wikimedia Commons)

    Dr. Gleb Tsipursky serves as the volunteer President of the nonprofit Intentional Insights and is a co-founder of the Pro-Truth Pledge. He authored a number of a number of books, most notably the #1 Amazon bestseller The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide, and is regularly featured in venues like CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Newsweek, The Conversation, CNBC, and elsewhere.

    At least 10 US children died and over 400 were sickened after taking homeopathic teething medicine laced with a poisonous herb called “deadly nightshade.” Carried by CVS, Walgreens, and other major American pharmacies, the pills contained this poison based on the alternative medicine principle of homeopathy, the treatment of medical conditions by tiny doses of natural substances that produce symptoms of disease. 

    These children did not have to die. Numerous research studies show that homeopathy does not work. Despite this research, homeopathy is a quickly-growing multi-billion dollar business, taking advantage of people’s distrust in science and the lack of government regulation of “alternative medicine.”

    These deaths are among many terrible consequences of the crisis of trust suffered by our institutions in recent years. While headlines focus on declining trust in the media and the government, science and academia are not immune to this crisis of confidence, and the results can be deadly.

    Consider that in 2006, 41% of respondents in a nationwide poll expressed “a lot of confidence” in higher education. Less than 10 years later, in 2014, only 14% of those surveyed showed “a great deal of confidence” in academia.

    What about science as distinct from academia? Polling shows that the number of people who believe that science has “made life more difficult” increased by 50% from 2009 to 2015. According to a 2017 survey, only 35% of respondents have “a lot” of trust in scientists; the number of people who do “not at all” trust scientists increased by over 50% from a similar poll conducted in December 2013.

    This crumbling of trust in science and academia forms part of a broader pattern, what Tom Nichols called The Death of Expertise in his 2017 book. Growing numbers of people claim their personal opinions hold equal weight to the opinions of experts.

    Children dying from deadly nightshade in homeopathic medicine is only one consequence of this crisis of trust. For another example, consider the false claim that vaccines cause autism. This belief has spread widely across the US, and leads to a host of problems. For instance, measles was practically eliminated in the US by 2000. However, in recent years outbreaks of measles have been on the rise, driven by parents failing to vaccinate their children in a number of communities.

    Should We Actually Trust Scientific Experts?

    While we can all agree that we do not want children to suffer, what is the underlying basis for why the opinions of experts - including scientists - deserve more trust than the average person in evaluating the truth of reality?

    The term “expert” refers to someone who has extensive familiarity with a specific area, as shown by commonly-recognized credentials such as a certification, an academic degree, publication of a book, years of experience in a field, or other way that a reasonable person may recognize an “expert.” Experts are able to draw on their substantial body of knowledge and experience to provide an opinion, often expressed as “expert analysis.”

    That doesn’t mean an expert opinion will always be right: it’s simply much more likely to be right than the opinion of a non-expert. The underlying principle here is probabilistic thinking, our ability to predict the truth of current and future reality based on limited information. Thus, a scientist studying autism would be much more likely to predict accurately the consequences of vaccinations than someone who has spent 10 hours Googling “vaccines and autism” online.

    This greater likelihood of experts being correct does not at all mean we should always defer to experts. First, research shows that experts do best in evaluating reality in environments that are relatively stable over time and thus predictable, and also when the experts have a chance to learn about the predictable aspects of this environment. Second, other research suggests that ideological biases can have a strongly negative impact on the ability of experts to make accurate evaluations. Third, material motivations can sway experts to conduct an analysis favorable to their financial sponsor.

    However, while individual scientists may make mistakes, it is incredibly rare for the scientific consensus as a whole to be wrong. Scientists get rewarded in money and reputation for finding fault with statements about reality made by other scientists. Thus, for the large majority of them to agree on something – for there to be a scientific consensus – is a clear indicator that whatever they agree on reflects reality accurately.

    The Internet Is for… Misinformation

    The rise of the Internet, and more recently social media, is key to explaining the declining public confidence in expert opinion.

    Before the Internet, the information accessible to the general public about any given topic usually came from experts. For instance, scientific experts on autism were invited to talk on this topic on mainstream media, large publishers published books by the same experts, and they wrote encyclopedia articles on this topic.

    The Internet has enabled anyone to be a publisher of content, connecting people around the world with any and all sources of information. On the one hand, this freedom is empowering and liberating, with Wikipedia a great example of a highly-curated and accurate source on the vast majority of subjects. On the other, anyone can publish a blog piece making false claims about links between vaccines and autism or the effectiveness of homeopathic medicine. If they are skilled at search engine optimization, or have money to invest in advertising, they can get their message spread widely.

    Unfortunately, research shows that people lack the skills for differentiating misinformation from true information. This lack of skills has clear real-world effects: just consider that US adults believed 75% of fake news stories about the 2016 US Presidential election. The more often someone sees a piece of misinformation, the more likely they are to believe it.

    Blogs with falsehoods are bad enough, but the rise of social media made the situation even worse. Most people re-share news stories without reading the actual articles, judging the quality of the story by the headline and image alone. No wonder that research indicates that misinformation spreads as much as 10 times faster and further on social media than true information. After all, the creator of a fake news item is free to devise the most appealing headline and image, while credible sources of information have to stick to factual headlines and images.

    These problems result from the train wreck of human thought processes meeting the Internet. We all suffer from a series of thinking errors such as confirmation bias, our tendency to look for and interpret information in ways that conform to our beliefs.

    Before the Internet, we got our information from sources such as mainstream media and encyclopedias, which curated the information for us to ensure it came from experts, minimizing the problem of confirmation bias. Now, the lack of curation means thinking errors are causing us to choose information that fits our intuitions and preferences, as opposed to the facts. Moreover, some unscrupulous foreign actors - such as the Russian government - and domestic politicians use misinformation as a tool to influence public discourse and public policy.

    The large gaps between what scientists and the public believe about issues such as climate change, evolution, GMOs, and vaccination exemplify the problems caused by misinformation and lack of trust in science. Such mistrust results in great harm to our society, from children dying to damaging public policies.

    What Can We Do?

    Fortunately, there are proactive steps we can take to address the crisis of trust in science and academia.

    For example, we can uplift the role of science in our society. The March for Science movement is a great example of this effort. First held on Earth Day in 2017 and repeated in 2018, this effort involves people rallying in the streets to celebrate science and push for evidence-based policies. Another example is the Scholars Strategy Network, an effort to support scholars in popularizing their research for a broad audience and connecting scholars to policy-makers.

    We can also fight the scourge of misinformation. Many world governments are taking steps to combat falsehoods. While the US federal government has dropped the ball on this problem, a number of states passed bipartisan efforts promoting media literacy. Likewise, many non-governmental groups are pursuing a variety of efforts to fight misinformation.

    The Pro-Truth Pledge combines the struggle against misinformation with science advocacy. Founded by a group of behavioral science experts (including myself) and concerned citizens, the pledge calls on public figures, organizations, and private citizens to commit to 12 behaviors listed on the pledge website that research in behavioral science shows correlate with truthfulness. Signers are held accountable through a crowdsourced reporting and evaluation mechanism while getting reputational rewards because of their commitment. The scientific consensus serves as a key measure of credibility, and the pledge encourages pledge-takers to recognize the opinions of experts as more likely to be true when the facts are disputed. Over 500 politicians took the pledge, including members of state legislatures Eric Nelson (PA) and Ogden Driskell (WY), and members of US Congress Beto O’Rourke (TX) and Marcia Fudge (OH). Two research studies at Ohio State University demonstrated the effectiveness of the pledge in changing the behavior of pledge-takers to be more truthful with a strong statistical significance. Thus, taking the pledge yourself, and encouraging people you know and your elected representatives to take the pledge is an easy action to both fight misinformation and promote science.\

    Conclusion

    I have a dream that one day, children will not be dying from taking poisonous homeopathic medication or getting sick with measles because their parents put their trust in a random blogger instead of  extensive scientific studies. I have a dream that schools will be teaching media literacy and people will know how to evaluate the firehose of information coming their way. I have a dream that we will all know that we suffer from thinking errors, and watch out for the confirmation bias and other problems. I have a dream that the quickly-growing distrust of experts and science will seem like a bad dream. I have a dream that our grandchildren will find it hard to believe our present reality when we tell them stories about the bad old days.

    To live these dreams requires all of us who care about truth and science to act now, before we fall further down the slippery slope. Our information ecosystem and credibility mechanisms are broken. Only a third of Americans trust scientists and most people can’t tell the difference between truth and falsehood online. The lack of trust in science - and the excessive trust in persuasive purveyors of misinformation - is perhaps the biggest threat to our society right now. If we don’t turn back from the brink, our future will not be a dream: it will be a nightmare.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154123 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154123 0
    When Truth Isn’t Truth Courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

    Dr. Gleb Tsipursky co-founded the Pro-Truth Pledge (at ProTruthPledge.org), a project joined by anyone who cares about creating a united constituency of all who care about truth and facts. He authored a number of a number of books, most notably the national bestseller The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide, and is regularly featured in venues like CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Newsweek, The Conversation, CNBC, and elsewhere. Connect with Dr. Gleb Tsipursky on Twitter, on Facebook, and on LinkedIn, and learn more about him on his website.

    “Truth isn’t truth” according to Rudy Giuliani, a statement he made on August 19th on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The phrase was immediately derided as a verbal blunder embodying the Trump administration’s complete disregard for the facts. Yet a closer look at Giuliani’s message shows an underlying strategic approach to undermining the truth similar to that used by “scientists” producing industry-sponsored studies rejecting human-caused climate change and links between tobacco and cancer.

    The transcript of the exchange reveals how Giuliani made his statement while defending Donald Trump’s unwillingness to testify for Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. According to Giuliani, “I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth.”

    The moderator, Chuck Todd, responded: "Truth is truth." Then, Giuliani said: "No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth." Giuliani went on: “Donald Trump says I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey. Comey says you did talk about it, so tell me what the truth is” and then added “we have a credibility gap between the two of them. You’ve got to select one or the other. Now, who do you think Mueller’s going to select? One of his best friends, Comey, or the president.”

    Let’s unpack that exchange. Giuliani’s first statement conveyed that there are many versions of the truth, and denied the existence of any underlying factual reality.

    Todd pushes back, saying - “truth is truth” - referring to truth as what physically happened in reality, independent of anyone’s interpretation or spin. Giuliani disagrees, stating “truth isn’t truth”: he denies the existence of anything that really happened, implying that it’s all about different interpretations and the one who determines the interpretation wins.

    He uses this denial of factual reality to defend his reluctance for Trump to testify. After all, once Trump’s testimony is on paper, the president can be charged with perjury if his version of the truth does not win out. Giuliani then suggests that the Mueller is biased and will side with his friend Comey over Trump, leading to Comey’s version winning out.

    It’s telling that this exchange occurred just as the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump is looking to reverse the long-standing position of the EPA that there is no safe level of fine particle pollution. This reversal is occurring regardless of the lack of science behind the new position and the extensive research showing that exposure to fine particles contributes to asthma and heart attacks. Likewise, the Trump administration is planning to repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions, with no credible science behind this repeal.

    What are the parallels behind these seemingly different events? The strategy widely used by climate change deniers - and now adopted by the Trump administration - of casting doubt on truth as a way of promoting their political agenda.

    A widespread consensus among climate scientists exists on the reality of substantial human-caused climate change. Unfortunately, less than 20 percent of Americans are aware of this consensus, despite extensive communication about this consensus by scientists.

    Why? Research shows this low level of awareness comes from economically and politically motivated challenges to the reality of climate change from groups with substantial access to resources that influence public opinions. Most notably, the fossil fuel industry has funded the research of a tiny minority of scientists in order to cast doubt on human-caused global climate change.

    Why do people believe this tiny minority of scientists? Because the fossil fuel industry then used its enormous financial and political resources to spread this paid-for “research” widely.

    People who are not experts in climate change are thus exposed extensively to false information due to the huge megaphone of the fossil fuel industry. Such exposure triggers the “illusory truth effect,” a psychological phenomenon where the more we are exposed to a lie, the more likely we are to believe in. Indeed, research on climate denialist messaging demonstrates that exposure to such information substantially reduces both people’s belief in human-caused climate change and the truthfulness of climate science.

    These tactics used in climate change denialism are part of a broader pattern of science denialism perpetrated by groups with economic and political interests in casting doubt on credible research as well as undermining belief in scientific truth more broadly. Thus, many of the same “scientists” who are now at the forefront of climate change denialism produced research denying the links between smoking and lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the hole in the ozone layer. As a tobacco executive wrote, “doubt is our product” - no doubt the same kind of product peddled by fossil fuel executives funding “research” denying climate change.

    Giuliani is in the same boat of peddling doubt as a strategy. His denial of an underlying truth of reality uses the same strategy used by deniers of climate change and links between smoking and cancer. Just as they use industry-funded “alternative science” to cast doubt on ever finding the truth of reality, he claims that we can’t speak about what really happened - “truth isn’t truth” - because alternative narratives exist.

    Whether in the courtroom or in the lab, peddlers of doubt like Giuliani decimate our ability to make the kind of sound decisions on which democracy relies. To preserve our democracy from destruction by such tactics requires an organized effort to unite all who care about truth across the political spectrum. Regardless of what Giuliani states - or what the industry-funded “scientists” claim - truth is truth, and it must be protected for the sake of our shared future.

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154142 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154142 0
    The Pro-Truth Pledge prompts truthful behavior, according to psychology studies

    Traditionally,  identifying truth in politics comes from mainstream media and its fact checking. A recent Gallup poll, however, showed that only 29 percent of Americans trust fact checking.

    Research in behavioral science suggests that we can address the spread of misinformation through a number of other effective strategies, which are brought together in the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP) project. Several months ago, I wrote a post explaining the Pro-Truth Pledge and its mission. Since that time, two peer-reviewed studies have provided evidence of its effectiveness in changing the behavior of pledge-takers — private citizens and public figures  both— to be more truthful, for more than a month after they have taken the pledge. Both studies were published in prestigious psychology journals, Behavior and Social Issues and the Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

    Quantitative evidence shows the Pledge is effective

    The study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Social and Political Psychology suggests that taking the pledge results in a statistically significant increase in alignment with the behaviors of the pledge. The survey involved 24 participants filling out Likert scale (1–5) surveys self-reporting their Facebook engagement with news-relevant content on their own profiles and also with other people’s posts and in groups before and after they took the pledge, with 1 at lowest level of alignment to the pledge behaviors and 5 being full alignment. To avoid the Hawthorne effect of study participants being impacted by observation, the study did not evaluate current behavior, but past behavior.

    We only recruited participants who took the pledge 4 or more weeks ago to fill out the survey, and asked them about their behavior after taking the pledge. Giving them this period also gave people an opportunity to have the immediate impact of taking the pledge fade from their mind, thus enabling an evaluation of the medium-term impact of the PTP on sharing news-relevant content.

    This study method was informed by the approaches used by studies of whether honor codes address cheating, which is the most comparable form of intervention to the PTP. Such studies similarly rely on self-reporting by students on whether they have cheated or not cheated.

    The study found that on one’s own Facebook profile, the median alignment with the PTP score before taking the PTP is 4 (SD=1.14), and the median alignment score after taking the PTP is 4.5 (SD=0.51). For engaging with newsworthy content on other people’s profiles and in groups, the median PTP alignment score before taking the Truth Pledge is 3.5 (SD=1.06).

    The median PTP alignment score after taking the Truth Pledge is 4.5 (SD=0.65). For sharing content, 70.83% of participants (17 of 24 respondents) reported an increase of their PTP alignment after taking the PTP. The figure below provides a visual summary of the preliminary survey data.

    Figure 1, Visual summary of preliminary survey data with PTP alignment in Facebook engagement

     

    We conducted a second study, the one published in Behavior and Social Issues, to address the weakness of the first study’s reliance on self-reporting. The second study sampled 21 people, and involved researchers observing and evaluating the quality of Facebook engagement by study participants on their own Facebook profile.

    Similarly to the first study, the second study avoided the Hawthorne effect of study participants being impacted by observation by evaluating past behavior. Researchers looked at the first ten Facebook posts with news-relevant content made four weeks after the pledge. Then, the researchers compared these ten posts to the first ten posts for the same period the year before the study participant took the pledge. Each post was coded according to quality, from 1 of lowest level of alignment with the PTP, to 5 of highest alignment.

    The second study showed that the average PTP alignment before taking the pledge was 2.49, and after taking the pledge was 3.65, and conducted a paired t-test to examine whether Pro-Truth Pledge Alignment is significantly different after taking the PTP. The null hypothesis H0 for the paired t-test states that there is no significant alignment difference before and after taking the pledge and the alternative hypothesis H1 proposes a significant difference. There was a significant difference in the scores for Pledge Alignment before]]> Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154145 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154145 0 3 Steps to an Intentional Life

     

     

     

    Are you getting all you want? Are you achieving all of your goals and succeeding in life? Are you living a fully intentional life?

    If you are, I salute you. I can’t make the same claim. To live a more intentional life, I constantly strive to gain greater agency, the quality of living intentionally.

    In doing that, it helps to take the following three steps: evaluate reality clearly, make effective decisions, and achieve your goals.

    Step 1: Evaluate Reality Clearly

    What does it mean to evaluate your reality clearly? That means gaining a deep understanding of your external environment – your immediate surroundings, your social circle, your career, and anything else of relevance. That also means your own internal environment – your patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving.

    Four factors obstruct our ability to evaluate reality clearly:

    Learning about and watching out for these challenges in a systematic manner improves our decision-making.

    Step 2: Make Effective Decisions

    Next, you want to make effective decisions about how to reach your goals. Consider your options, based on your knowledge of your outer and inner environment. Be aware that you can change both your external surroundings, and your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, to help you to get what you want in life.

    Evaluate the various paths available to you, assess the probability that each path will get you to your goals. Then make a plan for how to proceed, and take the path that seems best suited to go where you want.

    Step 3: Achieve Your Goals

    Finally, implement the decisions you made and travel along the path. Remember, you will usually encounter some unknown obstacles on your road to what you want. Be excited about getting feedback from your environment and learning about better paths forward.

    Take the opportunity to change your path if a new one opens up that seems better suited to help you meet your goals. Be open to changing your very goals themselves based on what you learn.

    As you can imagine, these things are easy to say, but hard to do. It’s very helpful to get support along the way, through learning about strategies oriented toward this purpose. However, above all, it takes your own commitment to the goal of gaining greater agency over your life and living intentionally to succeed in life.

     

    Key Takeaway

    To live a truly intentional life, make sure to take these three steps: 1) Evaluate Reality Clearly; 2) Make Effective Decisions; 3) Achieve Your Goals ---> Click to Tweet

     

    ---

    Bio: Known as the Disaster Avoidance Expert, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky authored the national bestseller on avoiding professional and personal disasters, The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide, and you can pre-order his new book, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters. He has over 20 years of experience dramatically empowering leaders to avoid business disasters as the CEO of the boutique consulting and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts. Tsipursky also has a strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University, with dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications. Visit his website DisasterAvoidanceExperts.com, subscribe to his monthly Disaster Avoidance Tips, email him at gleb[at]disasteravoidanceexperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, on Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, on Facebook DrGlebTsipursky, and on LinkedIn Dr. Gleb Tsipursky.

     

     

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on June 4, 2019.

     

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154212 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154212 0
    8 Key Steps to Prevent Project Management Failure

     

    When was the last time you saw a major project management or process management failure? Such disasters can have devastating consequences for high-flying careers and successful companies. Yet they happen all too often, with little effort taken to prevent failure.

     

    For example, many leaders stake their reputations on key projects such as successful product launches. However, research shows that most product launches fail. Nike’s FuelBand, launched with much fanfare in 2012, flopped on arrival. By 2014, Nike fired most of the team behind FuelBand, discontinuing this product.

     

    One of the most important types of projects for a business is a merger or acquisition. Yet 70 to 90 percent of mergers and acquisitions fail to create value, and CEOs who lead failed M&As are frequently replaced. For instance, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer left in large part due to the tensions around his push to acquire Nokia, which eventually led to Microsoft writing off $8.4 billion.

     

    Process failures can be just as bad. Safety failures led to the recall of over 20 million pounds of food across the US in 2018; from 1996 to 2017, more than 390 million cars and other motor vehicles had a recall, along with 154 million motor vehicle parts.

     

    Japanese airbag maker Takata Corporation, with revenue of $6.6 billion and over 50,000 employees in 2016, declared bankruptcy in 2017 due to the costs of a recall and lawsuits over faulty airbags. Boeing’s engineers knew that the 737 Max aircraft display alert system software failed to meet requirements, but failed to do anything about it before the deadly October 2018 Lion Air crash. The grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft after that crash and the March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, caused in large part by the display alert system software, cost the company over a billion.

     

    Of course, while examples from big companies make the headlines, mid-size and small businesses have their share of catastrophic project management and process management failures. Such mistakes largely come from the many dangerous judgment errors that result from how our brains are wired, what scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics call cognitive biases. Over 100 cognitive biases exist, and more are found all the time by scholars in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience. 

     

    These errors lead to dangerous mistakes in the workplace, in everything from mergers and acquisitions to assessing company performance. They also hurt is in our personal life. For example, a Top10.com survey shows that we tend to go with our gut reactions and thus fall for cognitive biases in our shopping decisions.

     

    Fortunately, recent research in these fields shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to notice and address these dangerous judgment errors. You can do so using structured decision-making techniques for making quick everyday decisions, for more complex and significant ones, and for critically important and highly complex choices.

     

    But what do you do after you make your decision? You also need to avoid failures and maximize success in implementing decisions, as well as in managing projects and processes that result from these decisions.

     

    The most relevant scholarship in implementing decisions deals with prospective hindsight, meaning looking back in advance. Prospective hindsight helps you anticipate and avoid threats as well as notice and seize opportunities. Thus, you can defend yourself against failures and maximize the likelihood of success in major projects and processes, and in implementing decisions.

     

    8 Key Steps to Preventing Project Management Failure

     

    “Failure-Proofing” is a pragmatic and easy-to-use strategy for obtaining the benefits of prospective hindsight. Having developed this technique based on behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience studies, I then tested it on the front lines of my over 20 years of experience consulting and coaching leaders in large and mid-size companies and nonprofits avoid project or process failures. I wrote it up so that anyone – not only the people who hire me – can avoid such failures and maximize success.

     

    Use Failure-Proofing after you decided to start any significant project and to check in regularly on existing processes. Don’t use Failure-Proofing on smaller, day-to-day decision-making, since doing so would take too much time. For those decisions, use the “5 Key Questions” technique instead. The failure-proofing technique is best done in teams, and should involve representatives of all relevant stakeholders; you can also do this technique by yourself, but consider showing your results to a trusted adviser for an external perspective.

     

    Step 1: Gather

     

    Gather all the people relevant for making the decision in the room, or representatives of the stakeholders if there are too many to have in a group.  A good number is 6, and avoid more than 10 people to ensure a manageable discussion.

     

    Make sure the people in the room have the most expertise in the decision to be made, rather than simply gathering higher-up personnel. The goal is to address what might go wrong and how to fix it, as well as what might go right and how to ensure it. Expertise here is as important as an authority. At the same time, have some people with the power to decide how to address problems and seize opportunities that might be uncovered.

     

    It’s very helpful to recruit an independent facilitator who is not part of the team to help guide the exercise. You can get someone from your Advisory Board, someone from another part of the organization, your mentor, or a coach or consultant. If you are going through this technique by yourself, write out various stakeholders that are relevant to the project or process, even different aspects of yourself that have competing goals.

     

    Step 2: Explain

     

    Explain the exercise to everyone by describing all the steps, so that all participants are on the same page about the exercise.

     

    Step 3: Next Best Alternative

     

    Then, develop two Next Best Alternatives (NBAs) to the project or process you are evaluating. Have each participant on the team come up with and write down one NBA anonymously. Anonymity is critical to ensure that unpopular or politically problematic opinions can be voiced (“perhaps we should wait for a better opportunity rather than acquiring this company”).

     

    The facilitator gathers what people wrote – thus ensuring anonymity if the facilitator is not part of the team and doesn’t know people’s handwriting – and voices the alternatives. Then, have team members vote on the choices that seem most viable, and choose two to discuss. Make sure to give them a fair hearing by having two team members – including at least one with authority – defend each NBA.

     

    After discussing the NBA, take an anonymous vote on whether the NBA seems preferable to the original project or process under discussion. If the original project or process still seems best (which is what happens in the large majority of cases), consider if the project or process can be strengthened by integrating any components of the two NBAs into your plan. If you are going through the technique by yourself, get outside input at this stage if you have difficulty generating an NBA.

     

    Step 4: Reason for Failure

     

    Next, ask all the stakeholders to imagine that they are in a future where the project or process definitely failed (an approach informed by the Premortem technique). Doing so gives permission to everyone, even the biggest supporters of the project or process, to use their creativity in coming up with possible reasons for failure.

     

    Otherwise, their emotions – which determine 80-90% of our thoughts, behaviors, and decisions – will likely inhibit their ability to accept the possibility of project or process failure. That’s why simply asking everyone to imagine potential problems works much less well. Supporters of the project experience a defensive emotional response that leaves their minds much less capable of creatively envisioning possible problems.

     

    After giving such permission, have each participant anonymously write out plausible reasons for this disaster. Anonymity is especially important here, due to the potential for political danger in describing potential problems (“the product launch will fail because the marketing department overhyped it, leading to unhappy consumers). Ask everyone to come up with at least three most plausible failures, while highlighting that the reasons for coming up with these failures is to address them effectively.

     

    These failures should include internal decisions under the control of the project team, such as cost and staffing, as well as potential external events, such as an innovation introduced by a competitor. Encourage participants to focus particularly on reasons they would not typically bring up because it would be seen as rude or impolitic, such as criticizing someone’s competency, or even dangerous to one’s career, such as criticizing the organization’s strategy. Emphasize that everyone’s statements will remain anonymous.

     

    The facilitator gathers everyone’s statements, and then highlights the key themes brought out as reasons for project failure, focusing especially on reasons that would not be typically brought up, and ensuring anonymity in the process. If you are going through this technique by yourself, write out separate reasons for project or process failure from the perspective of each relevant aspect of yourself.

     

    Step 5: Most Likely Problems

     

    Discuss all the reasons brought up, paying particular attention to ones that are rude, impolitic, and dangerous to careers. Check for potential cognitive biases that might be influencing the assessments. The most significant ones to watch out for are loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effect.

     

    Then, assess anonymously the probability of each reason for failure, ideally placing percentage probabilities. If doing so is difficult, use terms like “highly likely”, “somewhat likely”, “unlikely”, and “very unlikely.” Also consider how harmful each reason for failure might be, and pay more attention to the ones that are most harmful.  Here, the expertise of individual members of the team will be especially useful.

     

    The leader or person assigned as note-taker writes down all the problems brought up, as well as assessments of the probabilities. If you are going through the technique by yourself, get outside input at this stage.

     

    Step 6: Fixing Problems

     

    Decide on several failures that are most relevant to focus on, and brainstorm ways of solving these, including how to address potential mental blindspots. Also, discuss any evidence you might use that would serve as a red flag that the failure you are discussing is occurring or about to occur. For this step, it is especially important to have people with authority in the room.

     

    The leader or note-taker writes down the possible solutions. If you are going through the technique by yourself, get outside input at this stage.

     

    Step 7: Maximizing Success

     

    We addressed failure: now let’s make sure you not simply avoid failure, but maximize success! Next, imagine that you are in a future where the project or process succeeded far beyond what you expected. Have each participant anonymously write out plausible reasons for this success. Next, have the facilitator highlight the key themes.

     

    Discuss all the reasons, and check for the same cognitive biases as above. Evaluate anonymously the probability of each reason for success, and decide which deserve the most attention. Then, brainstorm ways of maximizing each of these reasons for success.

     

    The leader or note-taker writes down the ideas to maximize success. If you are going through the technique by yourself, get outside input at this stage.

     

    Step 8: Revising Project

     

    The leader revises the project or process based on the feedback, and, if needed, repeats the exercise.

     

    Conclusion

     

    Make sure to use the “Failure-Proofing” technique prior to any large project and to evaluate existing processes and systems to prevent failures. To see case studies with in-depth guidelines of how you can apply this strategy as an individual or a team, see the Manual on Failure-Proofing.

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    To prevent a project management or process management disaster, imagine that it completely failed. Then, brainstorm all plausible reasons for failure, and generate solutions to these potential problems. Integrate these solutions into your project or process. —> Click to Tweet

    To maximize project management or process management success, envision that it succeeded spectacularly. Brainstorm likely reasons for such success, and generate strategies that would lead to such success. Integrate these strategies into your project or process. —> Click to Tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your answers below)

     

    • What questions do you have about applying this technique?

     

    • Where do you think Failure-Proofing might best fit into your organization’s processes?

     

    • What will be your next steps in most effectively bringing it to your team and integrating it into your organization’s processes?

     

     

    Image credit: Flickr/freeimage4life

     

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on June 21, 2019. 

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky empowers you to avoid business disasters as CEO of the boutique consulting, coaching, and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts. He is a best-selling author of several well-known books, including Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise stems from his background of over 20 years of consulting, coaching, speaking, and training experience across North America, Europe, and Australia. It also comes from his strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University, with dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters by getting a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for his Disaster Avoidance Tips.

     

    Posted in Goal Achievement, Intentional Decision-Making, Leadership & Organizational Development and tagged , , ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154228 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154228 0
    How to Evaluate Unconscious Bias Caused by Cognitive Biases at Work

     

    To evaluate unconscious bias caused by cognitive biases, first think about these three questions:

     

    • What percentage of projects in your workplace miss the deadline or go over budget?
    • How often do you see hiring decisions and employee assessments influenced by factors not relevant to job competency?
    • How frequently are your team’s members overconfident about their decisions?

    If you didn’t answer “rare to none” for any of these, you got a problem. In fact, these questions get at only 3 out of over a 100 dangerous judgment errors that scholars in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience call cognitive biases.

     

    Do you regularly – over 10% of the time – see projects in your workplace go past deadline or over budget? It’s a sign that the cognitive bias known as the planning fallacy is undercutting performance. The planning fallacy refers to our intuitive belief that everything will go according to plan, resulting in us failing to plan for the many potential problems that cause projects to go over budget or past deadline. Cost overruns and delays result in serious damage to the bottom lines of our businesses.

     

    How about assessments for hiring, performance, and promotion impacted by non-relevant factors? Well, two dangerous judgment errors play a major role in causing such problematic evaluations, the halo effect and the horns effect. The halo effect refers to the fact that if we feel a significant positive emotion toward one characteristic of someone, then we will have an overly positive evaluation of that person as a whole. That’s why taller men get promoted at higher rates into positions of authority, and both men and women perceived as physically attractive are more likely to be hired. The horns effect is the opposite: if we don’t like a characteristic that is significant to us, we will tend to have a worse evaluation of that person as a whole. For instance, overweight people are less likely to be hired.

     

    Finally, excessive confidence in making decisions – and other work areas – is a symptom of the mental blindspot known as the overconfidence effect. Overconfidence has been associated with many problems in the workplace. For example, overconfidence leads people into financial shenanigans, such as overstating earnings. Overconfident leaders tend to resist constructive criticism and dismiss wise advice, letting their intuition drive their decision-making as opposed to making thoughtful plans. Overconfident shoppers tend to go with their gut and make unwise choices, as a survey by Top10.com has shown.

     

    So now that you know about the planning fallacy, the halo and horns effects, and the overconfidence effect, you’re safe from these 4 cognitive biases, right? Unfortunately, just learning about these mental blindspots will not work to assess where they occur in your workplace or to defeat them, as research shows. In fact, some techniques that would seem intuitively to help address unconscious bias caused by cognitive biases make them worse.

     

    Fortunately, recent research has revealed strategies that you can use to notice when you’re about to fall for these mental blindspots, as well as when you’ve been suffering from them for a while without knowing it. Moreover, it shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to overcome these dangerous judgment errors to avoid unconscious bias and make the best decisions, in your work and career, in your professional and personal relationships, and in other life areas as well

     

    The first step to solving cognitive biases does involve learning about them. However, simply having knowledge doesn’t help. For instance, students who learned about mental blindspots showed the same vulnerability to these errors as students who didn’t.

     

    What is much more helpful is making sure that people are strongly emotionally motivated to address cognitive biases. Our emotions determine 80-90 percent of our decisions, thoughts, and behaviors, and tapping our feelings is clearly effective in helping notice and address dangerous judgment errors. On a related note, it really helps for people to feel that the effort to address mental blindspots is important to them, getting them truly involved and bought into the outcome of debiasing cognitive biases.

     

    To do so, you need to evaluate thoroughly the impact of each cognitive bias on your own professional activities, as well as more broadly in your team and organization. Then, you have to make and implement a plan to address the problems caused by such unconscious bias, again, not only for yourself but also for your team and your business.

     

    Fortunately, you don’t have to address all the cognitive biases. Just going through the 30 most dangerous judgment errors in the workplace will get you the large majority of the benefit from such an analysis to help you avoid unconscious bias. All of these mental blindspots, along with clear next steps on what to do after the evaluation, can be found in the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace. It’s available for sale in print or digital form and you can get the digital version for free when you register for the Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

    Assessment on Cognitive Biases in the Workplace to Address Unconscious Bias

     

    The assessment starts with an evaluation of how frequently each of the 30 cognitive biases occurred in your workplace in the last year in the form of percentages. Don’t feel obliged to be absolutely precise, approximate numbers are fine.

     

    If you don’t remember something occurring, give it a low percentage score, including 0 if you think it doesn’t occur. For instance, if all of your projects came under budget and within the deadline, then planning fallacy is not a problem for you.

     

    Each of the 30 questions should take 10-15 seconds. Just put down the first number that seems to make the most sense for you. You can go back later and tweak it if needed. However, for the first run-through, do it fast. Remember, if you tend to be an optimistic person in general, temper your optimism and give a somewhat higher percentage than you intuitively feel is appropriate. Same goes for pessimism: give a lower percentage if you tend to be pessimistic.

     

    Following this evaluation, you will score the assessment to see the current state of dangerous judgment errors in your workplace. Next, you’ll evaluate the impact of these problems on the bottom line of your personal work, your organizational unit, or the company as a whole, to the extent that you can estimate this question. After all, knowing the bottom line impact will enable you to decide how much to invest into addressing the problem. You’ll then evaluate the performance of your workplace on the four broad competencies of addressing cognitive biases: how the people in your organization do on evaluating themselves, evaluating others, strategic evaluations of risks and rewards, and tactical evaluations in project implementation.

     

    Finally, you’ll get to the next steps. There, each dangerous judgment error is explained, focusing on its business impact. You’ll also get to decide which of the mental blindspots you’ll focus on addressing in the short term future.

     

    The assessment will prove invaluable as you take the next steps to solve the problems you identified. You should have yourself and others in your organization do the assessment after you introduce the concept of cognitive biases but before you launch any interventions. Then, you can use your assessment results as a baseline to assess the impact of any interventions.

     

    To develop your interventions, see the book that’s based around this assessment and provides both techniques and business case studies for how to address cognitive biases: Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters. You can also learn and use research-based strategies to make the best decisions in quick everyday choices, in moderately important decisions, and in critically important ones.

     

    Additionally, you would benefit from a method to avoid failure and achieve success when implementing your decisions, as well as another technique to address threats and seize opportunities in your long-term strategic plans. Finally, it would be really valuable for your to develop the mental habits and skills necessary to address the unconscious bias caused by cognitive biases. These techniques and skills, along with the knowledge in the book, will help you address effectively the dangerous judgment errors we tend to make.

     

    While enacting the interventions, have yourself and the others in your workplace take the assessment regularly – once a week if the intervention is intense, once a month if it’s less intense – to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention. Revise the intervention as needed to account for your results.

     

    After the intervention is complete and you are satisfied, keep taking the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace every quarter. Doing so will help keep up vigilance and ensure that you keep protecting yourself from the disastrous consequences of falling into dangerous judgment errors.

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    To address unconscious bias caused by cognitive biases in your workplace, you need to evaluate their impact on your own professional activities and on your team and organization. Then, make and implement a plan to address these biases. —> Click to Tweet

     

    Questions to Consider

     

    • Which of the following biases most negatively impacts your workplace: the planning fallacy, the halo and horns effects, or the overconfidence effect? What does that negative impact look like?
    • What would be the benefit to you, your team, and your organization of addressing the 30 most dangerous judgment errors in the workplace?
    • How did you score on dangerous judgment errors in your workplace when you took the assessment? How do you feel about your score?

     

    Image credit: Flickr/Geoffrey Fairchild

     

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on June 27, 2019.

     

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky empowers you to avoid business disasters as CEO of the boutique consulting, coaching, and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut, The Blindspots Between Us, and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise stems from his background of over 20 years of consulting, coaching, speaking, and training experience across North America, Europe, and Australia. It also comes from his strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University, with dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Guide.

     

    Posted in Leadership, Wise Decision Making and tagged , , , , , ,

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154234 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154234 0
    8 Key Steps for Effective Leadership Decision Making to Avoid Decision Disasters

     

    Effective decision making to avoid failures and maximize success is your key role as a leader: that’s why “decision makers” is synonymous with leaders. Yet how can you ensure that your decision making results in the right calls as opposed to decisions disasters? 

     

    Let’s say you make a poor choice on a hire for a major position. General Electric’s Board of Directors hired John Flannery as CEO in 2017 to restructure the company, but he didn’t work out. Shares fell by over 35% in the next year and the Board forced him out in 2018; immediately afterward, GE’s shares rose by 14%.

     

    Or perhaps you make a major decision-making error in strategy. Research shows that 46% percent of companies go bankrupt due to wrong-headed strategic moves by their leaders. For instance, Toys ‘R’ Us went bankrupt due to a number of lousy strategic decisions by the company’s leadership, such as taking on too much debt and failing to compete effectively in online retailing.

     

    Another type of problematic decision making is ignoring a looming problem: deciding not to decide. Kodak helped invent the digital camera, but dragged its feet on ramping up its investment into the digital camera market because its film business made more money. By the time it recognized the future was digital, more nimble competitors seized the market. Kodak proved unable to catch up, eventually filing for bankruptcy.

     

    All of these examples from large companies have their equivalent in mid-size and small businesses. Bad leadership decision making helps explain why about half of all new businesses fail within 5 years.

     

    Leaders commit serious decision-making mistakes largely due to the many dangerous judgment errors that result from how our brains are wired. Scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics call such mental blindspots cognitive biases.

     

    Fortunately, recent research in these fields has discovered strategies to realize when you’re falling into cognitive biases, as well as ways to defeat these dangerous judgment errors. These techniques are applicable in your work life, in your professional and personal relationships, your shopping choices, and in other aspects of your life.

     

    Doing so will not only help you make the best decisions, whether quick decisions on a day-to-day basis or in more important cases, but also prevent failure and amplify success in implementing these choices. Furthermore, they can empower you to minimize threats and maximize opportunities when you make and enact your long-term strategic plans

     

    Separately from these structured techniques, you’ll also need to gain mental skills and habits to notice and quickly overcome cognitive biases.

     

    8 Steps to Effective Decision Making for Leaders

     

    “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” is a pragmatic and battle-tested strategy that helps you choose the best option among several that each have strengths and weaknesses. I developed this technique based on research on the multi-attribute utility theory.

     

    Then, I used this model extensively during my consulting and coaching engagements for the last 20 years helping leaders in large and mid-size companies and nonprofits avoid business disasters. After perfecting it based on these engagements, I am sharing it with you. It will help you to make the right calls even if you don’t hire me.

     

    Use the technique in cases where it’s worthwhile to spend serious time and energy on a decision, meaning where the decision is really significant. These might include:

    • Making a substantial strategy shift
    • Pursuing a merger or acquisition
    • Making a key employee hire
    • Choosing which new product to launch
    • Deciding on a critical supplier
    • Moving your headquarters
    • Making a major career move
    • Evaluating whether and how your systems and processes need to be adjusted to match changing market needs

    “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” can be used by yourself or with a team. This web app, designed specifically for use with the technique, helps make the decision-making process and the math involved easy and simple. Moreover, the app ensures that the decision making is transparent to and inclusive of all stakeholders.

     

    My strong suggestion is to use this method together with the “Making the Best Decisions” technique. That’s because the “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” strategy focuses only on trade-offs between different options rather than all the other aspects of making the best decisions. I make sure that all of my consulting and coaching clients use these two techniques together, and I am giving you the same advice I give them.

     

    Step 1: List Decision-Making Criteria

     

    Write out all the relevant and important attributes for your decision, meaning the key criteria you will use to make your choice. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis by listing all possible criteria: try to limit yourself to 10, unless it’s a truly complex decision. For a key hire, you can use criteria such as “salary requirements,” “fit into organizational culture,” “ability to perform job,” “contribution to diversity,” and so on.

     

    If you’re going through this process as a team, brainstorm the categories and then vote on which should make it into the top 10. Then put them into the web app for easing your calculations and guiding you through the process.

     

    Step 2: Weigh the Attributes

     

    Give weights to each of your attributes, from 1-10 on their importance to you (1 lowest importance, 10 highest). Make sure to use this step to evaluate honestly which of these criteria is more important to you. For example, you can weight “salary requirements” at 4, meaning you have a good budget, and weigh “fit into organizational culture” at 9, meaning it’s a critical factor for success in your firm.

     

    If you’re doing this as a team, come up with weights independently and anonymously. Then, average out your weights.

     

    Step 3: Rank It!

     

    Rank each option that you are considering choosing on all the attributes in a decision matrix table, from 1-10 on how good they are (1-poor, 10-great).

     

    Similar to above, if you’re doing this as a team, come up with rankings independently and anonymously. Then, average out your rankings.

     

    Step 4: Math It!

     

    Using the table, multiply weights by rankings – the web app makes it easy.

     

    Step 5: Check with Your Gut

     

    Your gut can give you some useful information, as long as you make sure to use your head to evaluate the data provided by your gut. Your gut is particularly valuable on questions that have to do with your values, and major decisions often relate to values questions.

     

    Does the answer you got feel aligned with your intuitions? Would you be surprised if you looked back and wished you made a different decision? Experiment with adjusting weights and rankings to address gut feelings, but be cautious about trying to get the numbers to fit some predetermined choice.

     

    Step 6: Check with Your Head

     

    Check for potential dangerous judgment errors, especially ones resulting from paying too much attention to the gut. Look out for the 30 most dangerous judgment errors for decision making in the workplace.

     

    Pay particular attention to cognitive biases to which you might be prone personally. Play around with adjusting weights and rankings to address such errors.

     

    Step 7: Red Flags

     

    Decide what kind of red flags you would use to reconsider the decision if relevant new evidence emerges that would influence your rankings and/or weights. It’s best to decide in advance what you would consider to constitute important evidence. By doing so, you’ll reduce the chance of being swayed by short-term emotions as an individual or simmering tensions and disagreements as a team.

     

    Step 8: Choose and Commit

     

    Make your choice and stick with it. This precommitment will help reduce feelings of anxiety and doubt, help you be happier, and reduce conflict in team settings.

     

    Conclusion

     

    The “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” strategy should be used every time you need to make a critical decision, by yourself or as part of a team. Using this technique will allow you and your team to be confident about the quality of your decision making and maximize the chance that you’ll make the right call. If you’d like case studies with in-depth guidelines of how you can apply this strategy as an individual or a team, see the Manual on Avoiding Disastrous Decisions.

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    Effective leadership decision making on critical decisions involves: 1) Deciding the decision criteria; 2) Weighing importance of criteria; 3) Grading your options using the criteria; 4) Checking with your head and gut; 5) Sticking to your choice. —> Click to Tweet

     

    Questions to Consider

     

    • Do you have any questions about where and how to apply this technique?
    • How do you think using this technique might benefit your organization?
    • What steps can you take to most effectively bring it to your team and integrate it into your organization’s processes?

     

    Image credit: Rawpixel/Jira

     

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on July 1, 2019. 

     

    ---

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky empowers you to avoid business disasters as CEO of the boutique consulting, coaching, and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut, The Blindspots Between Us, and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise stems from his background of over 20 years of consulting, coaching, speaking, and training experience across North America, Europe, and Australia. It also comes from his strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University, with dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Guide.

     

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154235 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154235 0
    8-Step Leadership Decision-Making Process for Making the Best Decisions

     

    Isn’t it tragic that so many prominent leaders rely on their intuition for their decision-making process? Gut reactions are seen as something almost magical, acquired either by hard-earned experience or possessed by a select few genius young CEOs who deserve a top-notch pay package. Top gurus reinforce such mystical beliefs with their advice.

     

    Making the best decisions is seen as the key characteristic of top business leaders: why else is “decision maker” synonymous with “leader”? Unfortunately, leaders overwhelmingly fail to get professional development in their decision-making process. Yet research in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience showing that even one training session can significantly improve one’s decision-making ability.

     

    Baseball is Ahead of Business in Its Decision-Making Process

     

    The “magical” mindset toward following instincts over analysis to make decisions reminds me of the era of baseball before the rise of sabermetrics, data-driven decision-making process immortalized in the book and movie Moneyball. The movie and book described the 2002 season of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, which had a very limited budget for players that year. Its general manager Billy Beane put aside the traditional method of trusting the intuitions and gut reactions of the team’s scouts. Instead, he adopted a very unorthodox approach of relying on quantitative data and statistics to choose players using his head. 

     

    Hiring a series of players undervalued by teams that used old-school evaluation methods, the Oakland Athletics won a record-breaking 20 games in a row. Other teams since that time have adopted the same decision-making process. 

     

    Coaches and managers in other sports are increasingly employing statistics when making personnel and strategy decisions. For example, in professional football, punting and field goals have become less and less popular. Why? Statistical analysis has shown that going for a first down or touchdown on fourth down makes the most sense in many short-yardage situations.

     

    What would you pay to have similar record-breaking innovations in your business that cause record-breaking growth 20 quarters in a row? You’ll score a home run by avoiding trusting your gut and going with your head instead. 

     

    Don’t you find it shocking that business is far behind sports in adopting effective, research-based decision-making strategies? I know I do. 

     

    We have so much more tools right now in the information age to make better decisions, both in terms of the data available and in techniques that we can use to optimize our approach to making decisions. Unfortunately, prominent gurus are doubling down on the actively harmful advice of trusting your intuition in our current information age.

     

    Why is our intuition such a bad tool for making decisions? Because we suffer from many dangerous judgment errors that result from how our brains are wired, what scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics call cognitive biases. Fortunately, recent research in these fields shows how you can use pragmatic strategies both to notice and to address these dangerous judgment errors. Such strategies apply to your business activities, to your relationships, to your shopping choices, and to all other life areas as well.

     

    8-Step Decision-Making Process to Making the Best Decisions

     

    So let’s set aside the bad examples of the business leaders and gurus who rely on their gut in their decisions and follow the successful strategy of using data-driven, research-based approaches. You’ll win using these strategies in business as much as you’ll win in baseball. 

     

    Effective decision making doesn’t rely either on innate talent or on hard-learned experience, contrary to the popular wisdom attributed (debatably) to Mark Twain that “good judgment is the result of experience and experience the result of bad judgment.”

     

    The reality is that a first-rate decision-making process is both teachable and learnable. You can boil it down easily to an eight-step model for any moderately important decision. 

     

    Hiring a new employee, choosing a new supplier, selecting a speaker for your upcoming annual conference, deciding whether to apply for a higher-level position within your company: all of these and many more represent moderately important decisions. 

     

    They won’t make or break your career or your organization. Still, getting them wrong will hurt you much more than making bad everyday decisions, while getting them right will be a clear boost to your bottom line. 

     

    Because of the importance of these decisions, wise decision makers like yourself don’t want to simply get a “good enough” outcome, which is fine for everyday choices where you’d use the “5 Questions” technique to make a quick decision. Instead, you want to invest the time and energy needed to make the best and most profitable decision, because it’s worth it to maximize your bottom line. 

     

    In such cases, use an eight-step decision-making technique, which I developed and call “Making the Best Decisions.” It takes a minimum of 30 minutes if your initially-planned course of action is indeed correct, and longer if you need to revise things. If you do need to change things around, believe me, it will be very much worth it in time, money, and grief you save yourself down the road.

     

    This method is battle-tested: I use it extensively with my consulting and coaching for leaders in large and mid-size businesses and nonprofits. I wrote it up so that others who can’t afford my services may still benefit from my expertise.

     

    You can elaborate on this technique for the most important or really complex decisions with a more thorough approach to weighing your options. I also suggest you use a separate technique for avoiding failure and maximizing success in implementing your decision and an additional method to address threats and seize opportunities in your long-term strategic planning. Last, but far from least, you – and those you care about – will gain a great deal of benefit from the fundamentally important mental skills of quickly and effectively overcoming cognitive biases to avoid decision disasters.

     

    Now, on to the model itself. 

     

    First, you need to identify the need to launch a decision-making process

     

    Such recognition bears particular weight when there’s no explicit crisis that cries out for a decision to be made or when your natural intuitions make it uncomfortable to acknowledge the need for a tough decision. The best decision makers take initiative to recognize the need for decisions before they become an emergency and don’t let gut reactions cloud their decision-making capacity. 

     

    Second, gather relevant information from a wide variety of informed perspectives on the issue at hand

     

    Value especially those opinions with which you disagree. Contradicting perspectives empower you to distance yourself from the comfortable reliance on your gut instincts and help you recognize any potential bias blind spots. 

     

    Third, with this data you decide the goals you want to reach, painting a clear vision of the desired outcome of your decision-making process

     

    It’s particularly important to recognize when a seemingly one-time decision is a symptom of an underlying issue with processes and practices. Make addressing these root problems part of the outcome you want to achieve.

     

    Fourth, you develop clear decision-making process criteria to weigh the various options of how you’d like to get to your vision

     

    If at all possible, develop these criteria before you start to consider choices. Our intuitions bias our decision-making criteria to encourage certain outcomes that fit our instincts. As a result, you get overall worse decisions if you don’t develop criteria before starting to look at options.

     

    Fifth, you generate a number of viable options that can achieve your decision-making process goals

     

    We frequently fall into the trap of generating insufficient options to make the best decisions, especially for solving underlying challenges. To address this, it’s very important to generate many more options that seem intuitive to us. Go for 5 attractive options as the minimum. Remember that this is a brainstorming step, so don’t judge options, even though they might seem outlandish or politically unacceptable. In my consulting and coaching experience, the optimal choice often involves elements drawn from out-of-the-box and innovative options.

     

    Sixth, you weigh these options, picking the best of the bunch

     

    When weighing options, beware of going with your initial preferences, and do your best to see your own preferred choice in a harsh light. Moreover, do your best to evaluate each option separately from your opinion on the person who proposed it, to minimize the impact of personalities, relationships, and internal politics on the decision itself. If you get stuck here, or if this is a particularly vital or really complex decision, use the “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique to maximize your likelihood of picking the best option. 

     

    Seventh, you implement the option you chose

     

    Before and during the process of implementation, make sure to consider how your decision can go wrong and guard against these failures. Most importantly, ensure clear accountability and communication around the decision’s enactment. 

     

    For projects that are either complex, long-term, or major, I recommend using the “Failure-Proofing” technique to notice and address potential threats and to recognize and seize potential opportunities. That technique defends you from disasters in enacting your choices and optimizes the likelihood of you outperforming your own and others’ expectations.

     

    Eighth, you evaluate the implementation of your decision

     

    Revise both the process – and the original decision – as needed.

     

    Note that you’ll often find yourself going back and forth among these steps. Doing so is an inherent part of making a significant decision, and does not indicate a problem in your process. For example, say you’re at the option-generation stage, and you discover relevant new information. You might need to go back and revise the goals and criteria stages.

     

    Below is a quick summary you can print out and keep on your desk.

     

     

    Conclusion

     

    Don’t be fooled by the pronouncements of top business leaders and gurus. Your gut reactions are no way to make a good decision. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, but you want to be right much more than that for the sake of your bottom line. So follow the shockingly effective example of baseball and other sports, and use data-driven, research-based approaches such as the 8-step model above to make the best decisions for yourself and your organization.

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    8-step decision-making process: 1) Identify need for decision; 2) Get relevant info; 3) Decide goals; 4) Develop criteria; 5) Generate a few viable options; 6) Weigh options; 7) Implement decision; 8) Revise implementation and decision as needed. —> Click to Tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

     

    • Where and how might you apply this technique?
    • What resistance do you think you might face in bringing this technique to your team and organization? 
    • What steps can you take to overcome this resistance?

    Image Credit: Pixabay/olga-filo

     

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on July 9, 2019. 

     

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky empowers you to avoid business disasters as CEO of the boutique consulting, coaching, and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut, The Blindspots Between Us, and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise stems from his background of over 20 years of consulting, coaching, speaking, and training experience across North America, Europe, and Australia. It also comes from his strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University, with dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Guide.

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154239 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154239 0
    Surprising New Survey Shows Most Customers “Trust Their Gut” When Making Purchasing Decisions

    First, the survey turns on its head the common theory of the “rational consumer.” Colleges teach students this theory as a basis for all of their business education. Many people go on to use this theory to run their businesses. However, some recent research in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience has been questioning this assumption.

    The Top10 survey further supports the criticism of the “rational consumer” theory by showing that people don’t shop with their heads, they shop with their gut. Over two-thirds of respondents reported that they “trust their gut” often, very often, or always when making shopping decisions. So the large majority of people don’t fit the outdated theory. No wonder that half of all new businesses fail in the first 5 years or that most product launches flop: business leaders use the wrong framework to approach consumers.

    Second, the Top10 survey shows the outdated nature of the widely prevalent assumption that word of mouth offers the best way of marketing and selling a product. In the past, recommendations from friends and family mattered much more than anything else, at 90% according to a 2012 HubSpot survey.

    However, in 7 short years, the landscape changed. The 2019 Top10 survey highlights how recommendations from friends matter much less, dropping to 70%, and information from online sources such as user reviews has grown much more important, topping friend recommendations. Marketers and business leaders need to update their beliefs about what matters to shoppers to succeed in the new digital age.

    Third, the Top10 survey breaks new ground on consumer price sensitivity. While many assume that price is the most important factor by far, the survey shows they’re wrong. In fact, only a quarter of respondents go for the cheapest option. Over half consider price as one of many factors.

    Next, we’ll dive deeper into the survey findings on these three surprising results.

    Consumers Go With Their Gut

    Consumers, by and large, trust their gut when making shopping choices. Less than one third — specifically 31% percent — rely on their gut only sometimes, rarely, or not at all to make the right choice. By contrast, 69% rely on their gut often, very often, or always.

    The large majority of shoppers choosing to rely on their gut is unfortunate for the sake of making wise purchasing decisions. We know that we are all vulnerable to unconscious dangerous judgment errors that scholars in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience call cognitive biases. These are the mental blindspots that lead people away from being the idealized rational consumers of classical economic theory, always focusing on their own best long-term interest when making shopping decisions.

    Cognitive biases come mainly from relying on our gut reactions — our emotions and intuitions — to make decisions. It’s not only shopping: our emotions determine 80–90% of our thoughts, behaviors, and decisions in all life areas. In fact, people with brain damage that impairs their ability to process emotions have a great deal of difficulty making all sorts of decisions.

    Now, emotions undoubtedly have a key role to play in shopping. After all, the large majority of what we buy is not meant to satisfy basic, primary needs like clothing and shelter. Instead, it satisfies our wants and desires and comes from our personal lifestyle and values, our tastes and preferences. Some people like chocolate ice cream, and some like vanilla; some people want to live in the big city, and some in the suburbs; some like Apple and some PC. As people say, there’s no arguing with taste, and our emotions determine our tastes.

    The mistakes we make come from how we try to satisfy our tastes and preferences. For example, most consumers believe that more options would make them happier with both the process and outcome of their shopping. Yet in reality, it’s not true.

    Having some choices makes us feel good, yet once we get beyond that small number, we feel less and less happy the more choices we get. The trick is that we tend to buy into the (false) concept that more choices will make us feel better.

    For instance, in one study, shoppers at a fancy food market — not a lab — saw a display table with free samples of 24 varieties of gourmet jam. On another day, in the same market, shoppers saw a display table with 6 jam varieties. You won’t be surprised that the larger display attracted substantially more interest. However, people who saw the smaller selection were 10 times more likely to buy the jam, and felt better about themselves doing so than those who had to select among 24 varieties.

    The problem here is a cognitive bias called loss aversion. Our gut reactions prefer avoiding losses to making gains. Thus, we want way too many choices, wrongly perceiving a limited number of choices as losing out, despite the real loss coming from less happiness.

    Let’s take another example. Don’t you like it when you have the option to return what you bought if you didn’t like it? Well, another counterintuitive behavioral economics finding shows that, while we have a preference for being able to refund our purchases, we feel more satisfied with a shopping decision if it’s nonreversible.

    As an example, in one study, students got to choose between 2 art posters. Half the students were not allowed to change their mind, while the other half were told they could exchange the poster they chose for another one in the next 30 days. While 66% preferred to be in the half of the group that could change their minds, later evaluations showed that those who couldn’t exchange their posters actually were substantially happier with their decision. The culprit here is a judgment error called choice-supportive bias, where we become happier with a choice after we committed to it, rather than pondering the prospect of returning it.

    You might have heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” as referring to our desire to maintain a standard of living comparable to those around us, such as our neighbors, who we consider to be on a similar social level. Popularized by an early 20th century comic strip called “Keeping up with the Joneses,” this idiom points to an important aspect of our shopping behavior.

    Our gut intuitions drive us to improve our social status, and the cognitive bias known as the social comparison bias in particular causes us to try to outcompete others in our tribal group through our shopping. Scholars term such status-driven shopping “conspicuous consumption,” referring to buying products not primarily for their actual practical use, but for the prestige value of the purchase in raising the buyer higher in the social hierarchy. Such conspicuous consumption often drives us to make the wrong choices.

    Fortunately, savvy consumers — the 1.29% who never simply go with their gut — know that they can make much better decisions to satisfy their tastes and preferences by protecting themselves from intuitive reactions and instead relying on their head.

    Recent research in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to address these dangerous judgment errors, whether in your shopping, your professional life, your relationships, or other life areas.

    You need to evaluate where cognitive biases are hurting you and others in your team and organization. Then, you can use structured decision-making methods to make “good enough” daily decisions quickly; more thorough ones for moderately important choices; and an in-depth one for truly major decisions.

    Such techniques will also help you implement your decisions well, and formulate truly effective long-term strategic plans. In addition, you can develop mental habits and skills to notice cognitive biases and prevent yourself from slipping into them.

    What Sources Do Consumers Use to Make Shopping Decisions?

    It’s a brave new digital world when supposedly savvy marketers and business publications writing in 2019 still consider word of mouth as the most effective and important marketing technique, while the Top10 survey clearly shows they’re wrong.

    Why are they wrong? They’re relying on outdated information.

    In 2012, Nielsen ran a survey showing that 92% of survey respondents trusted recommendations from friends and family. In Nielsen’s 2015 survey, only 83% trusted recommendations from family and friends, a substantial drop of about 10% over 3 years. Only 66% trusted consumer opinions posted online, which overwhelmingly come in the form of user reviews.

    Top10’s survey shows that in the intervening 4 years, reliance on recommendations from family and friends dropped even further, to 70%. By contrast, the stock of user reviews grew substantially, to 77%, overcoming recommendations from friends and family. Other sources of online information are also catching up to recommendations from friends and family, with online comparison sites used by more than half of Top10 survey respondents?

    What explains this change, which apparently has not yet been internalized by many marketers? In part, people’s increasing familiarity and comfort with online information and online shopping as a whole.

    Shoppers are increasingly shopping online, with 2016 marking the year when consumers made more of their purchases online, a trend that continues to date. When consumers make online purchases, they often don’t have the opportunity to consult friends and family. They naturally turn to online sources for information, such as online reviews by others and comparison sites.

    Another factor explaining this dynamic comes from generational change. As more millenials grow into their full economic potential, and more older people leave this world, trust in online sources of information only grows. The Top10 survey shows that younger people show more trust for online sources such as online reviews and comparison websites compared to older people. Other research from December 2018 shows that 80% of those between 18 and 34 wrote online reviews themselves, while only 41% of those over 55 did so. We’re naturally more invested in the kind of activities we do ourselves.

    Unfortunately, many shoppers fall into dangerous judgment errors by trusting user reviews online. Bogus reviews are widespread. It’s easy to buy fake good reviews, while a number of people leave false bad reviews for a variety of reasons. Shoppers tend to focus most on extreme reviews, even though those are least likely to be accurate.

    It’s not surprising that research shows that objective ratings produced by high-quality online comparison sites have a low correlation to online user reviews. Due to cognitive biases such as the illusory truth effect — where we tend to believe something that’s repeated often enough regardless of whether it’s true — enough user reviews repeating the same thing, good or bad, often drive us to make bad shopping decisions.

    Price Sensitivity 

    Too many businesses assume, based on advice by some online marketers, that price dominates consumer choices. The Top10 survey shows that’s just not the case.

    Price is not nearly as important as it’s typically depicted. In fact, only a quarter of all consumers — just over 25% in the survey — are bargain hunters. Three quarters are willing to pay more if they are getting more for their money, and consider price as one of many factors.

    The confusion in other surveys that trumpet price as the most important factor likely comes from the problematic way they phrase the question. After all, who wouldn’t consider price as an important factor? Many consumers may use price points as the first thing they look at when determining what purchase to make.

    To delve more deeply into this question, the Top10 survey asked respondents to list all factors that matter to them when deciding which brand to purchase.

    Framing the question this way resulted in price coming out on top as the factor most frequently listed as important.

    So price indeed matters, just not nearly as much as typically depicted. The key is to ask how important price is — as the Top10 survey did when asking how much price means to consumers — not simply what factor is most important.

    Conclusion

    The three major surprises from the Top10 survey show that we need to update our beliefs about how consumers behave. They’re not rational, they’re less price sensitive than we think, and they rely more on — inherently unreliable — online user reviews than recommendations from friends and family. It’s very likely that the trend of increasing reliance on online sources of information will continue, hopefully shifting to more reliable sources such as online review sites. We can also hope that consumers will learn more about making wise decisions when they shop and avoid the dangerous tendency of going with their gut.

    Key Takeaway

     

    Consumers mostly make their shopping choices with their gut. As a result, they make many poor decisions. One of these decisions is to rely increasingly on online user reviews compared to recommendations from friends, even though user reviews are often misleading. ---> Click to Tweet

     

    Questions to Consider  (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

    • When was the last time you made a shopping choice relying on your gut that you regretted?
    • Is there anything in the article that will help you make better shopping choices?
    • Which next steps will you take based on reading this article?

     

    Adapted version of an article originally published in Top10.com

     

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on August 30, 2019. 

     

    Image credit: Pixabay/StockSnap

     

    ---

     

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky empowers you to avoid business disasters as CEO of the boutique consulting, coaching, and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut, The Blindspots Between Us, and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise stems from his background of over 20 years of consulting, coaching, speaking, and training experience across North America, Europe, and Australia. It also comes from his strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University, with dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Guide.

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154240 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154240 0
    Never Go With Your Gut: Video and Audio Book Trailer

     

    Want to avoid business disasters, whether minor mishaps, such as excessive team conflict, or major calamities like those that threaten bankruptcy or doom a promising career? Fortunately, behavioral economics studies show that such disasters stem from poor decisions due to our faulty mental patterns—what scholars call “cognitive biases”—and are preventable.

     

    Unfortunately, the typical advice for business leaders to “go with their gut” plays into these cognitive biases and leads to disastrous decisions that devastate the bottom line. By combining practical case studies with cutting-edge research, Never Go With Your Gut will help you make the best decisions and prevent these business disasters.

     

    The leading expert on avoiding business disasters, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, draws on over 20 years of extensive consulting, coaching, and speaking experience to show how pioneering leaders and organizations—many of them his clients—avoid business disasters. Reading this book will enable you to:

     

    • Discover how pioneering leaders and organizations address cognitive biases to avoid disastrous decisions.
    • Adapt best practices on avoiding business disasters from these leaders and organizations to your own context.
    • Develop processes that empower everyone in your organization to avoid business disasters.

    Book Video Trailer

     

     

    Book Audio Trailer

     

     

    Help yourself and others you care about avoid business disasters and maximize success: order a copy of the book right now!

     

    Full Transcript of Trailer

     

    Did you know that the biggest falsehood in business advice is “go with your gut”? I feel deep frustration whenever I see someone buy into some fire-walking guru’s toxic advice to go with your gut and shoot their career in the foot. 

     

    Research in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics shows that our gut reactions are adapted for the ancestral tribal environment, not the modern business environment. And, you need to avoid these primitive instincts to go with your gut, and instead be civilized and go with your head to avoid the dangerous judgment errors that scholars like myself call “cognitive biases”. 

     

    And that’s what Never Go With Your Gut is about. It’s the first book to focus on cognitive biases in business leadership, showing how these dangerous judgment errors bring down highly profitable companies and top-notch careers. More importantly, it uses cutting-edge research strategies and business case studies to show how pioneering leaders have actually successfully defeated cognitive biases. It gives you the tools that you need from them to defeat these cognitive biases and make the wisest decisions. 

     

    Now, you can be confident that these techniques will work for you. Because as the author, I’m a top thought leader on these topics. I have over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Time, Fast Company, CNBC, CBS News, and Inc. Magazine. For the last 20 years, I’ve consulted, coached, and trained leaders on how to avoid cognitive biases and make the best decisions as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. 

     

    And I’ve also spent over 15 years in academia, including seven years as a professor at Ohio State researching these topics. So I know both the latest scholarship and how to apply for this scholarship in business reality. 

     

    My clients, on average, decrease their costs by 15% and increase their revenues by 20% in the next year after implementing these techniques. What would you give to hit the same numbers? 

     

    Get a free book sample at DisasterAvoidanceExperts.com/NeverGut. You can also get the book on links from that same website, or at a bookstore near you. I want you to take advantage of the strategies in this book to maximize your success and leave business disasters to your competition. 

     

    Image Credit: Disaster Avoidance Experts

     

    Originally Published in Disaster Avoidance Experts

     

    ---

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky empowers you to avoid business disasters as CEO of the boutique consulting, coaching, and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut, The Blindspots Between Us, and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise stems from his background of over 20 years of consulting, coaching, speaking, and training experience across North America, Europe, and Australia. It also comes from his strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University, with dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Guide.

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154241 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154241 0
    Your Dangerous Mistakes? Cognitive Bias in Decision Making at Work (Videocast and Podcast of the “Wise Decision Maker Show”) Dangerous judgment errors (known as cognitive bias) threaten our daily decisions. To address cognitive bias in your workplace, you need to evaluate their impact on your own professional activities and on your team and organization. Then, make and implement a plan to address these biases. This episode of the "Wise Decision Maker Show" provides a videocast and podcast about the "Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace" that you can use to achieve these goals.

     

    Videocast: "Your Dangerous Mistakes? Cognitive Bias in Decision Making at Work"

     

    Podcast: "Your Dangerous Mistakes? Cognitive Bias in Decision Making at Work"

     

     

    Links Mentioned in Videocast and Podcast

     

    • The book Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters is available here
    • You are welcome to register for the Wise Decision Maker Course and get a digital version of the assessment for free as part of the course

    Video Transcript

     

    Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the Wise Decision Maker Guide. Today, I’ll share my story of discovering cognitive bias and what I did about it. When I discovered cognitive bias, I already knew that my intuitions sometimes led me astray causing me to make bad decisions, based on research about this topic.

     

    But what I didn’t know was how many kinds of cognitive bias there actually were. When I found that there were over 100 cognitive biases, I was shocked, to be honest. I mean, that there were 100 ways my mind was screwed up and could make mistakes, I had trouble believing that. 

     

    So, I went to Wikipedia, my first source of research, right? And I checked out the cognitive biases - you can check them out there too. And then, of course, looking to the research on this topic, which was pretty credible. But, I wanted to see how they actually impacted my life, so I went through the cognitive biases to see whether it felt true for me, whether I was actually making these same mistakes. 

     

    I looked at one called the planning fallacy where we have a tendency actually to overestimate our plans and use too little resources of time and money and so on, and I noticed that, yeah, I tend to get to places late systematically, making that mistake. So that was clearly a problem. 

     

    Now, another one was the illusion of transparency where we tend to overestimate how clearly we communicate something. And unfortunately, my wife does tell me that I tend to under-communicate and not communicate very clearly. I had that problem with some of my business colleagues as well. So that cost me some money, that was a problem.

     

    Now, another problem was where we tend to be overconfident about the quality of our decisions and jump to conclusions. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty big problem for me. I tend to jump to conclusions way too often, or at least I did when I discovered them. I still have a tendency to try to do that and I try to avoid them. And it cost me a lot of money, and it caused me a lot of stress as well. 

     

    So, I went through all the hundred kinds of cognitive bias and I saw that, yeah yeah yeah, they were pretty applicable so they were a real thing. And so, as much as I didn’t want to believe them, I was forced to accept that they were true and real and this is something I really need to work on.  

     

    This was something that I decided to work on myself, and then eventually teach others when I did consulting, when I do consulting, coaching, speaking, and training for business leaders about these topics. I focus on helping them avoid such cognitive bias and make better decisions. 

     

    As I started to work with business leaders, I discovered that not quite all hundred types of cognitive bias were as important to them. So, for example, there’s a cognitive bias called declinism where we tend to view the past more favorably than we tend to think the current time is or the future is. Now that’s a big problem in politics when we tend to want to go back to the past, but not really a big problem in business, I’ve noticed. 

     

    Another one is hot hand fallacy, where we tend to think that if we experience success with a random event like, let’s say throwing some dice, we have a hot hand and we’ll experience success again. That’s a problem for gamblers, so it’s a serious problem. But it’s not a problem for business leaders. 

     

    Another one is called the IKEA effect. Now, we tend to place too much value on objects and things and whatever that we created ourselves and that tends to be a problem for people in their personal financial lives. I’ve seen people, including some business leaders, have difficulty with selling their house, if they have put a lot of work into it or even their car because they really overprice it.  But it’s not a problem really for everyday business situations.  

     

    So, I looked at the list of 100 kinds of cognitive bias. I developed a list of 30 types of cognitive bias that I saw as most relevant, most important for business leaders. And how I used it was that I gave it to my clients and I just worked with my clients to work through this list of 30 kinds of cognitive bias and see whether they were vulnerable to some of them in there, when I do personal coaching, of course with individuals, I go through their individual behaviors. When I do consulting on a whole organizational level, I do it as part of the consulting and that’s with all people and organization. And that’s called the needs analysis where I evaluate what are the problems and how they need to be addressed.  

     

    So that was how I used it.  And once I perfected it, once I saw that it was really good, very useful, I wrote it up. I wrote it up as an assessment on dangerous judgment errors in the workplace, so that professionals, like yourselves, perhaps, who can’t afford my personal services, can still benefit from my expertise and can still avoid the dangerous, most dangerous judgment errors in the workplace, most dangerous mental blind spots. To help them avoid business decision disasters. 

     

    So what I want you to do and what I think you would benefit from is to check out, first of all, the blog on the assessment. It’s linked in the notes, so you learn how to use the assessment most effectively, and so you can figure out how to use it for your needs.

     

    Now, as always, as part of the Wise Decision Maker Guide, my goal is to provide you with excellent value in avoiding decision disasters. I hope the assessment helps you do so, and I‘d really like to hear from you about it. What do you think of using the assessment in your professional life?  Share your thoughts in the comment section, please, and please click “like” on this episode if you appreciated this episode, share the episode with others who you care about if you care about them avoiding decision disasters. Make sure to subscribe to avoid missing content for yourself on avoiding decision disasters. 

     

    Now you can learn much more about this topic in my book on how to address judgment errors in business settings and maximize success, called Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters. And I suggest that if you don’t want to buy the book, you can simply sign up for my Wise Decision Maker Course, which is again linked in the notes.  All right till next time, when you get another episode of the Wise Decision Maker Guide.

     

    Image credit: Disaster Avoidance Experts

     

    Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts

    ---

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky empowers you to avoid business disasters as CEO of the boutique consulting, coaching, and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut, The Blindspots Between Us, and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise stems from his background of over 20 years of consulting, coaching, speaking, and training experience across North America, Europe, and Australia. It also comes from his strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University, with dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Guide.

     

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154242 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154242 0
    How Associations Can Improve New Member Retention

     

    Any association would love a membership retention rate of 75 percent. Unfortunately, according to a 2017 report cited in ASAE’s Associations Now, retention rates for all members are falling. While in 2016, 73 percent of associations surveyed in the report had retention rates above 75 percent, in 2017 only 65 percent reached that rate. The numbers for new members are even lower.

     

    Certainly, these numbers are concerning. Yet statistics make it hard to grasp the lived experience of new members. So let me share the story of someone who recently joined, and then left, an association.

     

    A New Member Story

     

    Sharon recently graduated college, secured a job, and joined a national association (which I won’t name) of over 30,000 members with 9 staff. Her main reasons for joining:

    • Becoming part of a community of peers
    • Networking with others
    • Accessing vetted learning opportunities

    She got a useful welcome email with resources from the association. She appreciated the discounts on webinars, her preferred method of learning as an introvert.

     

    In the next newsletter, Sharon saw an invitation to the annual conference. In similarity to a growing proportion of inverted millennials who prefer digital over in-person engagement, she never liked large events. 

     

    Sharon decided to check out the local chapter to decide whether to invest the effort and money needed to attend the national conference. Arriving at the local chapter meeting, Sharon found that existing members congregated in cliques and did not actively welcome new members. When she was live-tweeting the speaker’s talk, she overheard one older member saying to another how “kids can’t keep their hands off their phones nowadays.” The whole experience left a bad taste in her mouth and she decided to skip the annual conference. 

     

    Instead, Sharon decided to try to engage with the community of her peers online. She went to the association website. Shocked to see no Instagram - her favorite social media and the preferred social media of many millennials - she clicked on the Twitter button. 

     

    She saw that the association posted rarely, every 3-5 days, instead of the best practice of posting at least twice a day. Then, she went on Facebook, and saw that it committed the social media faux pas of simply reposting what the association posted on Twitter! 

     

    Her last hope: LinkedIn. To her frustration, the button on the association home page was broken. She searched around on LinkedIn and finally found the association, but saw that it - unfortunately - reposted the Twitter feed. She searched for a LinkedIn or Facebook group for her association, but couldn’t find any.

     

    Sharon thought about the situation. Joining the association didn’t help her achieve her goals of becoming part of a community or networking. The discounts on webinars didn’t come close to justifying. She decided to avoid renewing her membership and pay the non-member price for webinars.

     

    Solving New Member Retention

     

    How many Sharons do you have in your association? Perhaps many more than seems intuitive to you.

     

    Research in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics shows that our intuitions make many dangerous judgment errors called cognitive biases

     

    Fortunately, recent research in these fields shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to address these dangerous judgment errors, whether in your professional life, your relationships, your shopping choices, or other life areas

     

    You need to evaluate where cognitive biases are hurting you and others in your team and organization. Then, you can use structured decision-making methods to make “good enough” daily decisions quickly; more thorough ones for moderately important choices; and an in-depth one for truly major decisions.

     

    Such techniques will also help you implement your decisions well, and formulate truly effective long-term strategic plans. In addition, you can develop mental habits and skills to notice cognitive biases and prevent yourself from slipping into them.

     

    An example of a cognitive bias that plagues new member retention is the false consensus effect, which causes us to assume that other people are more similar to us than they actually are. Thus, association leaders replace an accurate understanding of new association members with memories of ourselves as new members. We forget that millennials are more introverted and digitally oriented. 

     

    Another one - the overconfidence bias - causes association leaders to be excessively confident about what new members want. What if the national association sent out digital surveys asking Sharon what she wanted? What if it made her feel listened to and built a relationship, something so many millennials seek?

     

    It’s easy to do so using association engagement software, such as PropFuel and others. As a consultant and coach, I helped many association leaders implement effective member engagement plans that substantially improved retention.

     

    Perhaps if Sharon’s association did so, it would have learned of her distress - and that of many other digital natives - at the sad state of virtual engagement. Perhaps it would have learned of the problematic environment in local chapters and would have guided chapter leaders to be more welcoming of new members and digital engagement at meetings. Perhaps through engaging her and listening to her, the association could have convinced Sharon that it would change its ways to appeal to millennials like her and she would have renewed her membership.

     

    So how will you convince the Sharons among your new members to stay?

     

    Originally published by ASAE’s Associations Now 

     

    Image credit: Max Pixel/CC0 Public Domain

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    To improve new member retention, associations need to avoid dangerous judgment errors. An example is the overconfidence bias, which causes association leaders to be excessively confident about what new members want. ---> Click to tweet

     

    Questions to Consider  (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

     

    • How have cognitive biases such as the false consensus effect and the overconfidence bias undermined your new member retention?
    • How can you improve new member retention by addressing dangerous judgment errors?
    • What next steps will you take based on reading this article?

     

    ---

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky empowers you to avoid business disasters as CEO of the boutique consulting, coaching, and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut, The Blindspots Between Us, and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise stems from his background of over 20 years of consulting, coaching, speaking, and training experience across North America, Europe, and Australia. It also comes from his strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University, with dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Guide.

     

     

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on September 5, 2019. 

     

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154244 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154244 0
    5 Key Questions for Everyday Decisions (Videocast and Podcast of the “Wise Decision Maker Show”)

     

     

    How can you make everyday decisions quickly? Answer 5 key questions: 1) What info do I need? 2) What cognitive biases might harm me? 3) What would a trusted adviser say? 4) How might this fail? 5) Why might I revise this decision? This episode of the “Wise Decision Maker Show” provides a videocast and podcast about these 5 key questions that you can use to ensure you make the best everyday decisions, in business and in life.

     

    Videocast: “Are you prepared? || 5 Questions to Avoid Disasters in Everyday Decisions”

     

    If you enjoy video, here’s a videocast based on this blog:

     

    Podcast: “Are you prepared? || 5 Questions to Avoid Disasters in Everyday Decisions”

     

    And if you like audio, here’s a podcast based on the blog:

    Or simply read onward!

    Relevant Links

     

    • You can download a poster for your office or get decision aids with the 5 questions for yourself and your employees here.

    • The book Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters is available here.

    • You are welcome to register for the Wise Decision Maker Course and get a digital version of the assessment for free as part of the course.

    • Article on the assessment to evaluate dangerous judgment errors in your workplace.

    • Article on a thorough technique for making important decisions

    • Article on an in-depth technique for making critically important decisions

    • Article on a thorough technique to prevent failure and maximize success when implementing decisions

    • Article on a thorough technique to make wise strategic plans

    • Article on mental skills and habits to defeat dangerous judgment errors

    Full Transcript

     

    Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the Wise Decision Maker. Today we’ll discuss a hack for how you can make better decisions in your everyday settings, so better everyday decisions. Now, disasters in our businesses and our relationships and our personal life often result from a series of small mistakes that adding up together can lead to a lot, a lot of problems. So that’s what you want to avoid. You want to avoid problems in your everyday decision making. And this technique will you help you prevent these problems through investing very little effort, less than five minutes most of the time when you do this technique, to help you make the best decisions in everyday situations. And yes, since I often get asked, you can use this technique for major decisions if you’re facing a true emergency. But there’s much more effective techniques that are applicable to major critical decisions. So I advise you to not use this technique for major decisions unless it’s a super emergency.

     

    So, I’ll admit it. I have a problem with premature email-sending. I tend to be an optimist and risk-blind, so I tend not to really focus hard on thinking about how my email can be misread in more hostile ways. I tend not to think - not to look it three times over, five times over, before I hit send. And I don’t look at the tone, all that stuff. I just don’t look at it, it’s not my intuitive nature to do that. I just want to write them quickly, you know. I get in trouble because of it. So, I’ve really gotten in trouble because of it, because I don’t look through my emails very closely, and I’ll tell you a story when I got in trouble.

     

    I had a coaching client who ran a midsize growing technology company. And he wanted to acquire a smaller technology company. And they had some pretty serious concerns about his intentions to acquire this new technology company. It was an opportunity-buy, it was a sudden opportunity, you know, just came along and he was deciding to go for it. Not great from my perspective, so I wrote him an email saying that “Hey, this really doesn’t seem to align with your company’s strategy and you didn’t really seem to have done much due diligence on it. It’s very likely that this opportunity-buy will destroy value for you rather than create it, as most mergers do.”

     

    So research shows that over 80% of ALL mergers and acquisitions, all mergers and acquisitions destroy value rather than creating it. You might be surprised by that but that’s what happens. You have to be very careful when you do a merger and acquisition to make sure to do it right. So I wrote my client this email and he took some offense at my criticism of his intention, his judgement, we soon ended our coaching relationship. So I was looking back at this obviously and I kind of, I look at the situation you know, what did I do wrong? What happened? And I saw that I really screwed up. I really should have phrased the email differently. Not being so transparent and direct with my concerns, but really taking my client’s interpretation of my tone, of my email into account, and have written it in a much more thoughtful manner. So I really think that I failed as a coach there because I accidentally inspired a defensive reaction in my client and that was not a good thing that’s never something I want to do, you know, either lose a client relationship or inspire an unnecessary defensive reaction.

     

    So what should I have written? I should have started with expressing my excitement at the possibility of him furthering his own goals and furthering his company goals through making this acquisition. So starting with that side. And then I should have asked him, “hey, tell me, how does this acquisition fit into your broader merger and acquisition strategy? And what kind of due diligence did you do on it to make sure you didn’t end up like that other 80% - like the 80% of acquisitions and mergers that end up destroying value”. I should have asked him if he ever actually worked with this company, or if he can try out low level collaboration to make sure that there’s a culture fit. Because you know it’s really often the case there are two big problems that people don’t consider when doing mergers and acquisitions. They look at the externals, they look at the financials, they look at the technology their company possesses, if it has technology. But what they don’t look at is internal culture of the company and internal businesses, processes, and systems. So two things, internal culture, people, how they interact, and processes and systems. These internals are what most of the time cause destruction of value rather than creation of value. So this is especially likely in this sort of opportunity-buy, destruction of value rather than creation of value because you didn’t do the due diligence, you didn’t really examine it for a long time, you just see an opportunity and you go for it and seize it.

     

    So, stating my worries is what lead to his bad response. Now, why would this new format, as I thought about it later not have led to this response as I realized it? Well first of all because I start the email by expressing excitement for this potential acquisition and saying that “hey, this can - you know, I’m excited about this furthering your goals, your personal goals, your company goals.” It would have placed us on the same side, would have placed us on part of the same tribe, it would have reminded him that my primary primary motivation, always, is to help him accomplish his goals and to help his company accomplish the company’s goals. Then, then I, by using curious questioning, I would have asked, you know, “hey, what is your company’s broader merger and acquisition strategy?” Now, I happen to know for a fact that he didn’t have a broader merger and acquisition strategy. BUT, by using questioning, I would have not rubbed his face into this problem, I would have posed this as something for him to think about, whether he should have a broader merger and acquisition strategy or not. And so that would’ve helped him think about this.

     

    I would’ve also asked him about the due diligence of the both internals, both externals, which you pretty much do, you look at the financials, you look at the technology, you look at their various material wealth, properties, equity and so on. Now, I would’ve also asked him about the internal due diligence. Did he look at the systems and processes? Did he look at the internal culture? You know, perhaps some collaboration to evaluate internal culture and processes and systems would have been helpful. And that would have caused him to think about all of these things, to evaluate them, talk to me and/or others about them and likely, not, simply, not ending the coaching relationship, but have caused him to avoid this acquisition. Now, I know, because of checking up on this later, that the acquisition unfortunately proved pretty much a bust for my client, they were trying to acqui-hire, which is an acquisition hire. They were trying to both get the technology of the other company and just as importantly get the people who created this technology. Unfortunately they had significant culture clashes between the people of that company, between the internal culture and my client’s company, and the large majority of people ended up leaving because it was a bad fit, so they got much much less than they bargained for when they acquired that company, it was a really bad buy.

     

    Now, such examples of bad decisions in everyday life, like the way I screwed up my email are very common. They usually don’t lead to the really really bad result that my email led to, but they sometimes do, of course. More often it’s more like a series of bad decisions and bad interactions that ends up leading to ruin, leading to really serious problems. Maybe I keep sending or somebody keeps sending emails with the wrong tone, with the wrong strategy, ah gosh I just had this happen. I had somebody who kept sending me emails which were really pushy. This person seemed like professional on the face, had a good Linkedin profile, had some good books published, but then he kept sending emails that were really making too many demands on me, weren’t really pushy, just asking asking asking not giving giving giving, and eventually I started ignoring him and disconnected from him on Linkedin, because, you know, I just don't wanna do that. Why would you work with someone who keeps asking and never giving? So that’s an example of where--what you don’t want to do, you want to think about how the other person interprets your emails.

     

    Now, what about in the office - we talked about emails - what about communication in the office? How often have you seen minor little tensions build up over time and lead to major major office drama? Maybe you’ve participated, you know, that - it can be really serious. That’s communication in the office, not simply by email. What about when somebody skipped working, you or someone else, skipped working on important but not urgent tasks in favor of urgent and not really important tasks? We do that all the time, checking emails, going to work meetings, you know, responding to other people. But not working on important and not urgent tasks, like long-term projects over time, preparing for a presentation that’s six months away, or something like that. We often don’t do that and don’t think about these things. So that’s another problem in everyday decision making. Or let’s say time management, how often have you seen people be consistently consistently late somewhere, or not turning in their projects on time? It’s again, it’s the result of small everyday decisions that result in really big problems down the road. So added together, they really matter. And when we make the wrong choices repeatedly consistently as I did with my premature emails, this is pointing to cognitive bias problems.

     

    Cognitive biases are what researchers in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics like myself understand and have found recently to be the cause for a lot of little judgement errors that we make on an everyday level, as well as major major catastrophic errors that we make in major critical decisions. These errors, cognitive biases, mental blindspots, the formal scientific term for them is cognitive biases if you want to look them up on Wikipedia or somewhere else. And there’s going to be a blog linked with the 30 most common cognitive biases, to this episode so you can check them out. They - these cognitive biases are systemic and predictable errors we make as human beings, in business, in relationships, in personal life, in all other areas. And because they’re systemic and predictable, like the systemic and predictable small everyday errors, we can avoid them, we can address them, we can solve them.

     

    So, given that I suffered from these problems and my clients, my coaching and consulting clients, it’s what I do, consulting, coaching, speaking, and training, we both suffered from these problems, and small, everyday level problems. So what I decided to do is create a technique, a hack, a strategy, which you can use very quickly and very effectively to address the large majority of the small everyday decision making problems. And you do that by asking yourself five critical questions, it’s a checklist, of five - five critical questions that you ask yourself before making any sort of small everyday minor decision.

     

    First question, what important information did I not yet fully consider? A common danger is looking only for information - for evidence that fits your perspective. So looking for evidence that fits the perspective that, you know, “I’m writing an email that actually helps my client” as opposed to looking for evidence that “my client might misread my email”. Or, when you’re working on important - when you’re working on urgent tasks, looking for evidence that maybe these are not really important tasks, but you should be working on other tasks that are important but are not nearly as urgent. So look for evidence that disconfirms your perspective, that goes against it, because if you can find - if you can’t find evidence that goes against your perspective, you’re likely to be heading in the right direction.

     

    Another problem with this important information: just what the research shows is that we tend to not generate nearly enough options in our decisions, whether on an everyday level or in major decisions. So what you want to do is generate at least five acceptable options, five acceptable options, that you think, “oh, these are good enough”, before you choose one to go with. You know, for example, if you are writing an important email you want to make five drafts or at least five ways of saying things, and think about which ways are the most effective at various segments of the email. Or if you’re trying to, you know, work - communicate with your colleagues about something minor and annoying that they’re doing, you wanna think about different ways of saying it, so that it doesn’t end up getting into a blame game, getting into a major conflict.

     

    And the other thing you want to do, is you want to look only at information that actually is important. It’s very easy, unfortunately too easy, to keep gathering information for some people who are analytically minded. Not me, I tend to rush to decisions, I’ll - and I tend to, this technique helps me avoid rushing to decisions. But there are some people who are really analytically minded, and who tend to gather lots and lots and lots of information, much, much, much more information than they need. So you wanna look at only important information, so that you don’t get stuck in what’s called analysis paralysis and keeping analyzing information. Ideally you’d want to decide what information is important before you actually go ahead and try to make the decision. So that’s the first question.

     

    The second question: what relevant dangerous judgement errors have I not yet addressed? And I told you that there’s going to be a blog linked with the 30 most common dangerous judgement errors, and it has a link to the assessment that you can take on the 30 most dangerous judgement errors in the workplace. And so you wanna be thinking about these dangerous judgement errors, and which ones seem most applicable to the question at hand.

     

    Third question: What would a trusted and objective advisor suggest I do? Now, if - you probably have a mentor of some sort, you probably have a peer who you trust, in the company or outside the company. Maybe you have someone from outside your workplace who is not a peer in your work, but who is someone whom you trust in your everyday life, you know, a spouse or someone like that, a good friend. Or perhaps you have a consultant, a coach, somebody like that who you can turn to to give you advice on these topics. So that’s one aspect of this question. The other aspect of this question if you don’t have time to consult this person, if it’s a rushed decision, or what you want to do, in this case is imagine what this person will tell you. Now, interestingly enough, when we imagine what this person who we know, imagine this specific person, very clearly, imagine her speaking to you and giving you specific advice, your trusted objective advisor, imagine her telling you, “hey, this is what I think you should do, this is what I think you’re missing,” will get actually most of the benefits of this person themselves. We can’t perfectly model this person of course, but, we can do it most of the way. So over 50% of the benefits will come from you very specifically and concretely imagining what this person would actually tell you.

     

    Now, the fourth question, we’re transitioning with this question from making the decision to implement the decision. The question is: how have I addressed all the ways that this decision can fail? Now, if you choose the best option, but you fall down on the implementation of that option, you know, maybe you decided on the right tone for your email, but you screw up writing the actual email. Maybe you decide to work on important not urgent things, but you keep getting distracted by the next shiny object of the urgent thing despite your intention, despite the choice that you made. There’s so many people who do that. I mean like, when somebody comes into your cubicle and says “hey, can you help me with this?” And, I’ve - I help people who can’t say no to such requests, despite them committing to working on their own important and not urgent projects, and what you need to learn is asking this question. So for example, if you have an office door you wanna keep it closed, in that sense, or pre-commit to saying that, “hey I can’t help with this because I have this really super important and urgent project - I have a super important project that needs to be done”. So something like that, and there are many techniques that you can use. But the critical thing is you want to evaluate all the ways that this can fail, and address them in advance. So, the one thing you might discover while you’re working on this is that the option you pick of the five acceptable options might not be nearly as good as you thought, because they’ll fall down on the implementation. You know, so that’s something you’ll want to be ready to recognize, admit to yourself honestly as opposed to keeping blind - going blindly with this option even - even if you don’t think it will work very well which too many people tend to do, and instead go on to choose one of the other five acceptable options that you generated early on in the process.

     

    So, going on to the last question, the final question, the fifth question: what new information would cause me to revisit this decision? This is a surprisingly powerful question. Why is this? There are too many leaders I know, as again people who tend to be risk-averse and analytical, who are plagued by self-doubt, about decisions - about decisions that they made, you know, who - let’s say send the email, and they immediately think of “oh, you know, this person how can she misread this email and get mad at me” or something like that. So you don’t want to be the kind of person who is plagued by that doubt. And that’s the one problem that this question will help resolve.

     

    The other problem even more common that this question helps resolve is when teams of people are making small everyday decisions. So let’s say you’re in your meeting, discussing a topic and you have some conflict around - because naturally there are conflicts around decision making. But you say, “okay, you know, this is what we’ll do”. Unfortunately what I’ve often seen happen which you’ve probably seen as well, is people who disagreed with the original decision, any time there’s a problem with the choice that was made, they keep bringing it up. They keep hashing over all decisions were made in small everyday matters and saying “oh I told you so, we shouldn’t have done this, this is going to be a problem, we should change our minds.” So you wanna avoid that. And that’s when you - that’s how you avoid it by deciding it in advance what kind of information would make you as an individual or as a team revisit this decision. So you can set a financial trigger for this, for example, “if we don’t reach thirty million in sales for your decision”. Or a survey trigger, such as “if we don’t reach 15% increase in customer satisfaction”. Or a prospect trigger such as, you know, “If we don’t secure thirty new prospects in the next three months”. All of those are ways that you can set a trigger to revisit the decision. And if your trigger is not met, then you just go ahead with the decision. So it will help you a lot down the road that’s why you should use this.

     

    Now, how my clients and I tend to use this decision aid [the Five Questions] is to have it in front of us at all times - have it in front of us at all times. So I made this decision aid into the form of a four-sided folding business card so I keep one on my desk at all times and a lot of my clients do the same thing. So here it is, you see the four - you see the five questions and you see it’s a five-sided - it’s a four-sided business card size. And here I can - inspirational quote on the back “Beware of going with your gut, our intuitions are adapted for the ancient savannah and not to modern business environment and often lead to business disasters.'' So that’s another nice reminder. But the crucial thing is these five questions. So keeping these on your desk facing you when you’re typing out your email, looking at your spreadsheets, making your everyday decisions is critical. So that’s what many of my clients do.

     

    Another thing that many of my clients do is hang it in the form of post upon the wall. So, oh, I forgot to say this, what something that my clients do with this is also keep it on - in their wallet.-I have it in my wallet for when I’m away from my computer and I’m making decisions elsewhere, so to remind myself. Another thing you can do with this is hang it on a poster. Print out a poster with these questions and hang it on a wall in your office for all your employees and so on. And you by the way can get this decision aid for all your employees as well. And there’s a link to where you can get the four-sided folding business cards and the poster in the show-notes to the episode.

     

    Now, leaders as I mentioned often get the decision aid for all of their employees not only something for themselves, but for all of their employees, because often their employees are making these small everyday decisions all the time. When you know, everything from sending emails to working with clients and deciding, you know, how to deal with a customer service problem, working with suppliers, so on. They integrate asking these questions into their business systems. It’s a part of their business process, it’s part of their business systems. That way, if you integrate this, you can be confident that all of your employees are minimizing the risk of business disasters in their individual and team decision making processes. You can also hold your employees accountable - you can make sure they’re held accountable for asking these questions. Because if an employee fails to ask one or more of these questions. For example, if they fail to ask “how can this decision have gone wrong?” Then you can make sure that they are appropriately penalized for not following the process. That is a simple process, if they don’t follow the process they can be penalized, it’s under their control.

     

    However if a decision went wrong, that resulted in a serious problem, in a way that wasn’t under their control, that they could not have realistically predicted. You know, sudden tariffs hit and they couldn’t have predicted these tariffs. Or you know, there was a tornado and their supplies got delayed or something like that. They can’t predict these things. Then you should hold the employee blameless even if a problem - a serious problem occurred as a result of their everyday decision making if they couldn’t have predicted them and if they actually did ask the questions.

     

    So having a shared approach to decision making will enable everyone in your company to also be more efficient in their decision making as a team in a team activity. So what a lot of leaders do is make sure to ask all their employees before any meetings, where usually decisions have to be taking place, at least some decisions, they make sure - they ask their employees to think about these decisions in advance and answer these five questions. And then in the meeting themselves they of course have the four-sided business cards in front of all of the employees when they’re holding the meeting. And they use the four-side, the business cards with the five questions to structure the meeting agenda. It’s a natural structure for the meeting agenda. You go through all five questions and then you commit to the decision.

     

    So that’s a very very effective mechanism that makes your meetings much shorter because you know what questions to ask. Knowing what questions to ask is often the most critical and problematic part of making a decision. And knowing these questions and knowing that you’re going to be asking these questions makes things much easier and more efficient down the road.

     

    So, additionally everyone has much more confidence in the decisions that they make because they follow a shared process. It’s transparent, it’s clear, you know how you evaluate information and how you make the decisions. Now, I don’t think that we like to say this, but as I mentioned at the beginning, if you are in a real slam, if it’s a real emergency, you can use these five questions for making major, major, major decisions. So for example, if you’re having a meeting with a business colleague and the business colleague makes a sudden unexpected proposal to you, and says you know, for some reason, for you know, whatever random reason, it’s only available in this period of time when you can trust that that they’re not trying to screw you, that, you know, it really is available for only a short period of time. But you can take less than five minutes to ask these five questions. You know, you’re going to almost almost almost always be in a situation where you can ask the five questions. You shouldn’t ask the five questions if, you know, if you’re about to get hit by a bus. You should just jump out of the way of the bus. BUT, if you are making any sort of business decision, there’s almost never a time when you don’t have the time to ask yourself these five questions. Just ask for a break in the meeting, go out of the room, ask yourself these five questions, analyze them and come back. Easy enough. If you think that the break for asking the five questions would be problematic, ask to go to the restroom. Say you need a bit of time to think about it, whatever, easy enough.

     

    Cool, so, I want you to check out the blog on asking these five questions. I, of course, went over them. I suggest you read the blog, it has a lot of links to a number of principles, basic principles behind why these questions work, the research around these questions, as well as links to other effective decision making techniques that you can use for more important critical decision making processes. And I’ll also link one of these in the show notes in the episode. I’ll also have a link to where you can get the four-sided business cards as well as the poster.

     

    Now, my goal as always is to provide you with outstanding value in avoiding decision disasters and making the best and most profitable decisions. I hope I’ve been successful in this episode, and I want to ask you to share your thoughts on whether I have been successful. Share your thoughts on the episode. Share where and how you might find yourself using these five questions technique. Click “like” if you like this episode. Make sure to subscribe if you haven’t yet, to avoid missing content that will help you defeat cognitive biases and make the wisest decisions. You can learn much more about this in my book on this topic on how you avoid cognitive biases and make the wisest decisions called “Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters”. Now, I can also offer you a few resources which will be linked in the show notes: a signup to my Wise Decision Maker Course, which gives you the fundamental basic principles of wise decision making. I hope to see you on the next episode of “The Wise Decision Maker”, and I wish for you to have the wisest decisions, my friends.

     

    Image credit: Disaster Avoidance Experts

     

    Originally Published in Disaster Avoidance Experts on September 28, 2019

    ---

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut (2019), The Blindspots Between Us (2020), and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook (2017). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. His expertise also stems from his strong research and teaching background in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University, with dozens of peer-reviewed academic publications. He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154245 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154245 0
    How Global Elites Can Address Misinformation

    The President-Elect of the EU Commission Ursula van der Leyen, the Austrian Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein, the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Secretary Genera Elhadj As Syl, the CEO of Penguin Random House Markus Dohle, billionaire philanthropist and Chair of Bertelsmann Management Group Liz Mohn, and two dozen other high-profile global elites joined me at Trilogue Salzburg in August 2019. 

     

    This yearly event is described by its organizers as follows:

    Surrounded by the stimulating atmosphere of the Salzburg Festival, the Trilogue Salzburg convenes leading thinkers, decision-makers and renowned personalities from the arts, civil society, business and politics to engage in cross-cutting, inter-cultural and future-oriented debate.

     

    Each year, the organizers of the conference choose a different future-oriented topic. This year, the topic was “Fragmented Realities - Regaining a Common Understanding of Truth.”

     

    Indeed, this year did not disappoint. Full of prominent leaders - ranging from politicians and business leaders to nonprofit leaders and thought leaders - the conference featured extensive discussions of how to address misinformation and post-truth politics. 

     

    I was invited to attend and participate in a roundtable panel there. You can see me second from left in the back in the photo above, and also at 3:17 in this video

     

    If you enjoy video, here’s a videocast based on this blog:

    A prominent thought leader, I’m a social scientist who published substantial peer-reviewed research on how to fight misinformation, a public figure who wrote hundreds of articles and gave hundreds of interviews on this topic, and a best-selling author who wrote The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. I’m also a civic activist as the co-founder of the Pro-Truth Pledge project, dedicated to uplifting truthfulness in all areas of public discourse, and President of the Board of Intentional Insights, the 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit that runs the pledge project. 

     

    What surprised me most at the event was the percentage of high-profile participants who lacked research-based perspectives on this topic. Conference attendees mostly advocated old-school approaches to addressing the lack of truth and trust in society, such as more education about misinformation and critical thinking. So I found myself at odds with most of the participants.

     

    I pointed out that if such methods worked, we wouldn’t be in the bind that we are, and we wouldn’t need a conference on how to deal with this problem! Research has found that many forms of education about misinformation actually leads to the spread of misinformation. Even the typical ways that journalists try to counteract misinformation can often backfire, causing people to hold more strongly to these myths. So do the ways health experts teach about health misinformation.

     

    That's why simply saying "we need more education" is a very, very bad idea: the traditional and intuitive way we teach about misinformation is often exactly the wrong thing to do. We need the right education - the specific type of education that research has found to not spread misinformation - which is not what is usually taught! Global elites taking part in the conference can make a meaningful difference in improving education.

     

    Several participants made the claim that the recent wave of misinformation resulted from economic inequality between the rich and poor. In their view, such inequality led to the poor being more willing to believe misinformation. Yet measures of inequality haven’t changed much between 2000 and today, while misinformation has become much more powerful and prevalent in the last few years. 

     

    Instead, the key difference is the astronomically quick growth of social media as the source from which people get their news, and the prevalence of misinformation on social media, since tech companies aren’t doing much to filter out fake news. The global elites who attended the conference have the power to address the inaction of tech companies, and indeed some conference attendees are already starting to do so.

     

    Hopefully, some of the research-based perspectives shared by myself and a couple of other participants familiar with cutting-edge research in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics on promoting ethical and truthful behavior will make some impact. I shared some of the points about education and many other topics informed by my scholarship and writing.

     

    Another example. One of the other attendees was Dhruv Ghulati, co-founder of Factmata, who personally signed the Pro-Truth Pledge and whose organization signed it as well. He discussed the need to reward - financially and otherwise - high-quality journalism, instead of the current financial incentives rewarding click-baity journalism. Providing financial incentives for such journalism is the essence of Factmata.

     

    Most exciting of all, Pro-Truth Pledge donors gathered sufficient funding to make an early, pre-release run of my forthcoming book co-written with Tim Ward, called Pro Truth: A Practical Plan for Putting Truth Back Into Politics, available for pre-order here.

     

    The book describes how we can turn back the tide of post-truth politics, fake news, and misinformation that is devastating our democracy through the Pro-Truth Movement: a movement which has already begun, and is making a tangible impact. I was able to make personal, signed gifts of copies of the book to 23 out of 30 conference attendees. My hope is that it will make a real difference to the fight against misinformation to have such high-profile people read this book. My gratitude to the donors who helped make it happen!

     

    P.S. Don’t forget to pre-order the book now!

     

    Image Credit: Bertelsmann Stiftung

     

    Originally published at Gleb Tsipursky on September 22, 2019.

     

     

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. His expertise and passion is using pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to develop the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (2020). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere.

     

    His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. Its hundreds of clients, mid-size and large companies and nonprofits, span North America, Europe, and Australia, and include Aflac, IBM, Honda, Wells Fargo, and the World Wildlife Fund. His expertise also stems from his research background as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University. He published dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Behavior and Social Issues and Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

     

    He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154256 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154256 0
    8 Key Leadership Decision-Making Process Steps to Making the Best Decisions (Videocast and Podcast of the "Wise Decision Maker Show")

    In order to make the best decisions, follow these decision-making process steps:

    1) Identify need for decision

    2) Get relevant info

    3) Decide goals

    4) Develop criteria

    5) Generate a few viable options

    6) Weigh options

    7) Implement decision

    8) Revise implementation and decision as needed

    That’s the key take-away message of this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Guide, which describes the 8-Step Process for Making the Best Decisions.

    Videocast: “8 Key Leadership Decision-Making Process Steps to Making the Best Decisions”

     

     

    Podcast: “8 Key Leadership Decision-Making Process Steps to Making the Best Decisions”

     

     

    Links mentioned in the episode

    Below are the most important pieces of content from the Wise Decision Maker Show (to be read in the following order):

     

    Full Transcript of the Wise Decision Maker Show Episode “8 Key Leadership Decision-Making Process Steps to Making the Best Decisions”

     

    Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Wise Decision Maker. Today, we’ll talk about everyone’s favorite topic — process. Specifically, decision-making process for leaders, current and aspiring leaders. Now, don’t click away — process may not be your favorite topic, but it’s supremely important, really, really, really important. So you’ll want to pay attention to this video in particular. Clicking away would be a bad decision. So why did you want to click away, what’s up with the process, and why should we care about process? Well, because without process, you just have your gut intuitions, you just have your intuitive desires, you have your instincts. And, actually, our gut intuitions are pretty terrible decision makers according to the research on this topic. They bring ruin, devastation to really successful companies and very highly successful leaders. Unfortunately, fire-walking gurus and others will often tell you that you can just follow your gut in making decisions as a leader. Not a good idea, really really bad idea to follow your gut. If you listen to them, good decision making is something that’s almost magical, it’s either acquired by, well, hard earned experience or something you have a really long time, have thirty years or more, and then you’re going to be a good decision maker. Or, possessed by a few select geniuses, CEOs who deserve a top notch pay package. Not the case. Actually, decision making is something that can really be learned pretty easily, if you look at the most effective decision making strategies that are out there, and that’s something we’ll talk about today.

    First, I want to clarify why our gut intuitions are such a bad decision making mechanism. It turns out that we are prone to numerous, numerous judgement errors. Scholars and behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscientists like myself have discovered over 100 judgement errors that are called cognitive biases that we tend to make because of how our brain is wired. Because of our evolutionary heritage and because of other aspects of how we were and how we currently are and how our brain has evolved and what’s going on there right now. So we make a lot of mistakes when we trust our gut, follow our gut. That’s not something we want to do. Fortunately, like I mentioned there’s a lot of research that shows exactly how to overcome these problems. And that’s a strategy, I’ll share about one strategy today for enabling you to protect yourself from making bad decisions in your professional life as leaders, and you can also apply this to your personal life. I know I do.

    So first, I want to share about a decision-making process that I did not make. When I was a younger person, early on in my life, when I was just in my teens choosing a career, I was thinking about what careers should I go for, and I made a pretty serious mistake when I was at that stage of my life. Now understand that at that time, I really didn’t know about cognitive biases, mental blind spots, good decision making, so I didn’t have that going for me, I just had my gut intuitions, my gut reactions. And my gut reactions were listening to my parents. My parents, you know, there’s lots of good things they did, but there are some bad things that they did. And one of the bad things that they did was they strongly encouraged me to be a medical doctor. From really early on, when I was a kid, growing up, they said, “I should be a medical doctor — I should be a medical doctor — I should be a medical doctor” and you know, I came to believe them. You know, they’re my parents, they’re someone I trust, they’re experts on this “adulting” stuff. So, OK, I’ll be a medical doctor.

    So all throughout high school and college I was learning how to be a medical doctor, I was taking classes on it. Oh gosh, I remember an internship, volunteer internship I did at a hospital once — there were several internships at hospitals — but there was one particular one where I did an internship in the ER and looking at all of these things that people are rushed into the ER. The worst thing, the thing I really remember right now, was that they were trying to save someone who had, a major accident occurred and they were trying to save someone and they actually, like, in front of me — I wasn’t quite in front, I was in the back of the room — what they did essentially is cut this guy’s chest open and apply electrodes to his heart to try to shock his heart back to life. And they didn’t succeed, unfortunately this person died in front of me on the operating table, and then they asked me to hold this guy’s chest together while the doctor was sewing it back together.

    So that was pretty disturbing as part of my experience. But you know what? That was not the thing that put me off being a medical doctor. I can tolerate that. I can be like, okay this is just a human being, this is who we are — whatever — you know, just biological machines, in a way, right? I’m not talking about the spiritual stuff but that’s kind of how I was thinking about it. But what really put me off being a medical doctor was when I actually started learning about cognitive biases and good decisions around that time in my last year of college. I started exploring these topics because I was always interested in how groups made their decisions and how people made their decisions, and so I studied this through a historical lens. I used to be really fascinated with history, how groups made decisions in history, how people made decisions in history. Only mid, late in my college years did I start to get into the psychology of this and realized that a lot of the stuff in history really needs a psychological approach to truly understand how people make decisions because there is so much research that has come out very recently about that decision making that is not included in history, the study of history.

    So anyway, to make the longer story short, I was sitting down — I was thinking about why did I actually want to be a medical doctor? And I have to say that I realized that I didn’t really want to be a medical doctor. My parents wanted me to be a medical doctor and lots of my friends, you know, I had a very close friend at that time who was going to be a medical doctor, and we were kind of bonding around that. He wanted me to be a medical doctor, many others wanted me to be a medical doctor, but I just wasn’t resonating with that. It just wasn’t something calling me to do that, it’s not something I was passionate about. I realized I was just doing it because my parents wanted me to do it and because it was just going to be a high-status, high paying job which of course is why they wanted me to do it. And I fell into a cognitive bias called “illusion of truth.”

    Now, the illusion of truth refers to the fact that when something is repeated often enough, we come to believe it is true. We come to internalize it. That’s how advertisements are so effective, whether they’re for campaigns, commercials, to get you to buy stuff, or for political campaigns or for anything else.

    So, the illusion of truth — big problem! And I came to believe what my parents were telling me about being a medical doctor. So, you know, I trusted them, I came to believe that, and that was a big problem. I took a lot of expenses. I spent thousands of hours trying to be a medical doctor, taking classes, learning these topics, doing internships, all that stuff. That was time that I pretty much wasted, since I decided not to go into medical school and be a medical doctor, and that was a serious, serious mistake that I made. Spending so much time, wasting so much of my life, learning stuff, focusing on stuff, doing stuff, that I could have much more effectively channeled into my real passion which was, at that time, I decided to go and study decision making by groups and individuals in historical and contemporary settings. So that’s what was fascinating for me and that’s what I decided to study. And that’s how I came to be doing what I’m doing right now with you watching me in this video, on this episode, checking out this episode.

    So then, as you can imagine, my parents weren’t very thrilled with this turn of events, and we had a number of conflicts, a number of fights. That was my first real big break with my parents, and you know, they’re still kind of upset with my choice of career. Now, the consulting, speaking, coaching, writing, it’s a boom and bust sort of business, you have a lot of clients, everything goes well, and then suddenly you have no clients and you need to work on getting clients.

    And whenever things aren’t going well, my parents are still telling me like, “oh, are you sure don’t want to go to medical school, you’ll always have a job then. And we can even pay you for the medical school, whatever it is, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars.” No thank you, I appreciate it … you know, medical school, I was looking at the statistics on being a medical doctor. And it turns out that medical doctors are super stressed and not very happy people. Medical doctors actually have the highest suicide rate of any profession in the U.S. That’s another good reason I didn’t want to be a medical doctor. Sorry to any medical doctors who are checking out this episode but it is true… look at the statistics.

    Anyway, so that’s one type of mistake that I made in my life by not following good process, and there’s many many others mistakes that many people that are much more prominent than me make. So think about Carlos Ghosn. He served as the Chairman and CEO of Renault, Chairman of AvtoVAZ, Chairman of Mitsubishi, and CEO and Chairman of Nissan, and later of the combined Nissan — Renault — Mitsubishi alliance. He served as a Chairman and CEO of that. Hugely prominent, I think in 2005 he was ranked as the 3rd most prominent business person in the world. So, super, super, super important, powerful person. And, he was arrested in Japan in November 2018 on charges of underreporting earnings and misusing company funds. And that information that the Japanese authorities used to arrest him, that information came out from the Nissan leadership, from the Nissan leadership team who were working under Carlos Ghosn, they were working under him, and that information came out from there. Yeah…he really misread that situation, it’s pretty clear to me if you look at the evidence that this was a result of political maneuverings within Nissan, that he was about to fire the current Nissan CEO and the Nissan CEO went behind his back, got this information, sent it to the investigators, and the investigators arrested him. So that’s what it looks like most likely happened. And Carlos Ghosn, no matter how prominent he was, he really made a bad decision by misreading the politics at Nissan. Not a good idea, you know, maybe he shouldn’t have tried that political maneuvering but we’re not going to go into that in depth. But that’s an example of a really really bad decision by a really really prominent person.

    So, maybe you know someone to whom that sort of thing occurred where political maneuverings where this person wasn’t able to read the social context of a business situation correctly, and got screwed as a result. I know I have a number of clients who suffered those sorts of things in the past and I worked with them to help them reduce those sorts of problems but I mean, that still happens. And yeah, that’s not great, that’s a big problem. Now it doesn’t only happen to people, to individuals, to business leaders at all sorts of levels, low level and aspiring leaders, current leaders in smaller companies, mid-size companies, large companies, huge companies, Fortune 500 companies like Nissan and so on. It happens to companies themselves, companies themselves as a whole group make really bad decisions that lead to terrible, terrible outcomes.

    So there was a study of the companies with assets of over $500 million that went bankrupt in the U.S. between 1981 and 2007. And there were 423 companies like that. Well the studies showed that in 46% of the cases, 46% of these companies, the bankruptcy could be attributed solely to bad decision making by the leadership. In other words, these bad strategic decisions, just about the bad decisions, not even about the implementation of the decisions, it wasn’t about logistics, it wasn’t about external events. 46% of the cases, it was bad, strategic, high-level decisions by the leaders that resulted in the bankruptcy. And that the bankruptcy could have been completely avoided if these decisions had been different. In many of the remaining cases, the bankruptcy may well have been avoided so we can’t have a guarantee on those. But in many of the remaining 54% remaining cases, bankruptcy likely could have been avoided if the leadership had taken different strategic, more effective strategic judgements. Yeah, so that’s a big deal, these were companies with over $500 million of assets, assets that went into bankruptcy. Now, think about what happens on a smaller level. According to statistics by the Small Business Administration in the U.S., about half of all small businesses close their doors within 5 years of opening. A lot of that comes from bad strategic decision making by their leadership. So you see it happens at the lowest levels of smaller businesses, it happens at the highest levels of huge companies, very common with decision makers.

    So I want to talk right now about a strategy, a much more effective decision making process than going with your gut that you can use to make wise decisions. And I developed this technique based on research in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics about how you can fight cognitive biases effectively in making significant decisions. I call it Making the Best Decisions technique and I battle tested it with my consulting and coaching clients so worked with them, testing this technique until developing it into perfection and that’s why I’m sharing it with you now, both because I think it’s pretty done by now, it’s been battle-tested, it’s really great, and if you can’t afford to hire me you can still get the benefits of my expertise by simply applying this technique. So, don’t need to hire me, don’t need to hire anyone else. Just apply this technique.

    It’s an eight-step process that you can use for any significant decisions. What do I mean by significant decisions? These are decisions that you can clearly imagine having a substantial impact on your bottom line. These aren’t “make or break” decisions. This isn’t about the company or about the career decisions. But they’re pretty, pretty significant. They can be such decisions like hiring a new employee — a significant decision — choosing a new supplier for an important part, those are company decisions. Deciding for you, for your career, to take the leap of a significant new project, or to acquire a specialization in a specific aspect of your field. So, professional development. So those are all the kinds of decisions that I’m talking about, and it’s pretty important to get these decisions right, like I said, they won’t make or break your career, they won’t make or break your organization, if you get one of them wrong. However, if you get several of them wrong in a row, or if you get several of them wrong in one area, that’s when they can bring you to ruin.

    So for example, if you hire a bunch of poor employees, or if you get a bunch of suppliers who are bad in supplying your critical components, those could bring you to ruin if they are really bad decisions. So you don’t want to do that, and even if you get one of them wrong, it can still hurt you a lot. You want to prevent that. So you want to use this technique, Making the Best Decisions technique, this 8-step technique for whenever you want to get a significant decision right, and it takes about 30 to 90 minutes to apply, depending on how you do the various steps of it and what you find during the various steps of it. So I want you to block out, the first time you’re using it, block out at least 90 minutes to go through it completely. Because the first time you use it, it will take you more time. Then as you use it more, it will take you less and less time and of course each decision will be slightly different depending on the information that you find.

    So what is the first step of this 8-step technique? First, you need to identify that a decision needs to be made. In some cases, it’s pretty clear, you know you want to hire a new employee. In some cases, it’s not going to be very clear, such as with Carlos Ghosn. It wasn’t clear to him that he should re-read his interpretation of Nissan internal politics. And that’s often the case when decisions are most complex, when they have — identifying that a decision needs to be made is most complex — when it has to do with people. People — I have to say — people decisions are really, really, really tough, and because they involve personalities, they involve complex dynamics, and it can be really tough to understand and realise that a decision has to be made. So, these are people decisions, but also sometimes you don’t see shifts in the market that you really should, because you’re not looking for them. You’re not trying to take the first step of this technique, and you should constantly be considering whether a decision needs to be made by scanning your environment, especially people and the external situation, the market and seeing whether a decision needs to be made.

    So that’s the first step. The best decision makers, again, as part of this step, they take the initiative in evaluating whether a decision needs to be made. They don’t let their gut reactions cloud their decision making capacity on whether a decision needs to be made, especially when a decision needs to be made about people and when you might want to think about ending your relationship with someone. That’s a tough one. So that’s a really important one to notice in advance that you probably should make that decision.

    So going on to Step 2, you gather relevant information from a wide variety of perspectives, informed perspectives of course about this topic. So you want to make sure to especially gather information from perspectives that don’t intuitively fit your own because you’ll run into what’s called the confirmation bias. That’s one of the over 100 cognitive biases from which we can suffer as human beings, where we tend to just go with — where we tend to look for information that confirms our current beliefs and ignore any information that we get that doesn’t confirm our beliefs. That’s why you want to deliberately, to counteract this bias, this gut reaction, you want to deliberately look for information that goes against yours current beliefs and search for it from people who have perspectives that you know are different from your own. So I tend to be super optimistic about the future — just my personality — that’s one of my cognitive biases, optimism bias. So I tend to gather information especially from the people who suffer from the opposite bias, the pessimism bias. So that’s how I use this step of this technique, Step 2, and that’s how you want to think about using this step, go to people who will help you recognize your potential mental blind spots on this question and sources of information on this question.

    So, Step 3: Once you gather relevant information, you want to evaluate what was the data you got, you want to evaluate the goals that you want to reach. What are the actual goals that you want to reach as part of your decisions? What future do you want to achieve? Paint a clear vision of this future. So you want to have a very clear goal that you are going for, you know, you don’t want to say, “I want to hire a good employee”. Let’s say you’re making a hiring decision. That’s super vague and fuzzy. What do you want this employee to be like, what do you want this employee to do, what do you want this employee to achieve for you? What are your goals for this hire? So that’s what you want to highlight and make clear for yourself. Now, as part of this, I want to underscore that it’s really important to understand whether you’re dealing with a one-time decision, just to address a specific need, or whether you’re facing a systematic problem, a systematic issue. Where, your decision — then, a part of your goal should be to cure not simply the symptom of the problem, but to address the underlying problem as well. So you want to make sure to cure the underlying problem. If, let’s say, you are making decisions about changing your reporting structure, let’s say you’re finding that information that is important, let’s say negative information isn’t getting to you in a timely manner or isn’t getting to you at all. You want to — one of the things you can do is change the reporting structure, say, make sure to get this kind of information to me, let’s say, you didn’t get information about customer complaints, and you want to make sure, OK, I really want information about customer complaints. But that’s likely indicative of an underlying problem in your organization where people tend to fall into the “mum” effect. The “mum” effect is one of the cognitive biases where we tend not to convey negative information up the food chain and that usually happens because of the culture of the organization. So you want to look at the underlying culture and fix the underlying culture as part of this process. So, that’s Step 3.

    Step 4: you choose decision making criteria that you will use to weigh the various options. Don’t look at the options yet, as much as you can help it, sometimes we have to have the options as we start the decision making process, but ideally, you would want to not consider the options as of yet, you want to look at the criteria. What criteria will you use to choose the options? What criteria will you use to choose what kind of information gets to you? You probably want to have the criteria of especially highlighting negative information, conveying this information in a specific format that will be applicable to you, maybe deciding which other people need information. When you’re hiring an employee, you want to look at this person’s skills, this person’s experience, this person’s fit in the organization, their personality, how well they align with the underlying values and the underlying culture that your organization has, of course their salary requirements, so all of these things, look at the criteria you will use to make the choice.

    Now the reason that you don’t want to look at the options is that our intuitions will tend to bias the kind of criteria we choose based on the person we’re thinking about. Because as part of choosing the criteria, you’ll want to weigh the criteria. So let’s say you want to decide fit into your culture, you want to say, let’s say on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is least important, 10 is most important, you’ll want to say it’s an 8. For example, and let’s say you are really a company that’s well off, and you say the salary requirements are a 5, and so on. And you look at someone’s skills and skills are super important, this is a really important job to fill well, so you’re going to make it a 10, for example. Then, what you want to do is you don’t want to let your thoughts about your friend Bob who you think would be a great fit for this position to influence your hiring criteria. To influence the criteria that you created, unless you’re specifically making this position for your friend Bob, in which case this decision making process doesn’t apply. But if you really want to actually make that best hire and you don’t have your friend Bob in mind as someone who you want to create the position for, that’s what you would do.

    So next, the 5th. Here’s where you generate your options. So if you want to think about what kind of reporting you want to get, you generate the options for the kind of reporting. If you want to think about the employees you want to get, here is where you send out the application and you get the employees and so on. And if you want to think about what kind of suppliers you want to get, then you send out a bid for proposals. So that’s the vendors. And we frequently fall into the trap of (I fall into this) — I was thinking about a publicist for my book the other day and I really didn’t search enough — I generated three options as my first thing I was looking for. And that wasn’t nearly enough as I discovered when I was going through those three options. Ugh — I really should have done a better job of generating options, so I had to go back to that step and re-generate options, I eventually generated about 10 acceptable options. But what you want to do is generate at least 5 acceptable options, 5 options which you’d be really happy — not happy, but satisfied, let’s say it that way, if those were some of the options chosen. And remember, this is a brainstorming step, so don’t really judge the options except say that they are acceptable. You want to also not judge the options if they seem outlandish or politically problematic, because in my experience doing consulting and coaching, some of the best options come from things that seem unacceptable at first. And then you integrate parts of them into the final decision.

    So, and then you go to Step 6. This is where you use the criteria that were weighted already, you weighed the criteria, you know how important they are meaning, so you understand how important they are, you use them to choose the options. So look at the options, choose them using the criteria, be aware of going with your initial preferences, again, you know, if you are thinking, “I really click with this person really well at the interview.” And, that’s something, some people are really good at interviews, so they might be good at talking with you, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be good at the job themselves. So you want to make sure to go against your intuitions a little bit here and use specific numerical steps to weigh the options. So separate them from your opinion. Now if you get stuck here, I have a technique that you can use called “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” which is all about Step 6, which is all about this step, it goes into it in much more depth. It’s very important to use this technique on complex options, whenever you’re — so that’s one. Another one is on critical decisions, not simply important ones, but critical, let’s say you’re hiring the CEO for your company, so that’s going to be a critical decision. If you are choosing to enter a business partnership with someone that is going to be really a critical supplier for you, let’s say a supplier of more than 30% of your parts, or someone who is a critical client, so someone who is going to be giving you more than 30% of your revenue, or if you’re going on the merger and acquisition path, this is really important. So you want to avoid a disastrous decision and this is a technique you can use, there is a blog linked in the show notes today. So that’s where you can learn about that, I won’t go into more depth here.

    Then finally you go to Step 7, you implement the decision that you chose. Before and during the process of implementation, you want to make sure to consider how your decision can go wrong and guard against these failures, that’s going to be really important for you. And also, you want to make sure to think about how can this decision go most right, how can it be the best and most awesome decision implementation process that you can create. And, move toward those, integrate those into your solution. You want to ensure clear accountability and communication about the enactment of this decision so you want to know who is doing what and how. So make sure there is clear next steps. Now for projects and critical processes, if this is a decision where the implementation is a serious project in itself, whether it’s complex, long-term, major, something like that, I strongly encourage you to use my failure-proofing technique, that’s all about Step 7. So this goes in depth into Step 7, how you can protect your decision implementation process from failure and maximize success, that’s what that technique is about. It’s going to be linked in the show notes as well so you can check that out.

    Now finally, Step 8. It’s the last step, I promise you. You evaluate the implementation process. “How’s it going?” “what’s going on?” “are you happy with it?” And then you revise it as needed to meet your goals. You revise the implementation to make sure that you’re actually accomplishing what you set out to do in Step 3 which is the goals that you want. Is the employee doing what you thought the employee’s doing? Is the supplier doing really well? Is the new reporting structure doing what you wanted it to do? Now something that I want to highlight here, a number of people ask me this, it that you’ll often find yourself going back and forth between the steps. Let me be super clear, that’s not a problem. So it’s very natural to jump back and forth between the steps as you do them because sometimes later onward in the steps, you’ll discover new information that’s really quite relevant for the earlier stage of the steps. For example, say you are at the option generating stage, and you discover important new information about how the current options you have are just not meeting your goals that you outlined in Step 3. So then you go from Step 5 back to Step 3 and say OK, let me revise the goals to make sure that I can achieve my goals, that I can have the right goals given the limited amount of options I have available. So that’s an example.

    Alright, so I want you to check out the blog for this technique for this 8-step decision making process technique that is really important and critical for you to get your decisions right, substantial, substantial, moderately important decisions right. It’s linked in the show notes, and it has a lot of links out to other both fundamental principles behind this technique, and also all the other techniques that I mentioned as well as much other information that you’re going to find really helpful to implement this technique effectively. My goal, always, is to provide you with excellent, excellent value that you can apply immediately once you get back to the office, to avoid cognitive biases and solve them and defeat them and make the wisest decisions possible that will help you protect your bottom line and maximize your success. I hope this episode has proven itself to help you do so and I want to hear back from you. Do you think it will help you achieve these goals that I set out for every episode? What you do think of this 8-step technique — making the best decisions? Where might this information be useful for you in your own work? I want you to click “Like” if you liked this episode, and subscribe to avoid missing Wise Decision Maker content. Make sure to follow me on social media, to not only get this Wise Decision Maker, the content of this show, but also to get a lot of other information, I curate information from other folks — not only my own information — on good decision making and avoiding dangerous judgement errors. Now, much more about avoiding dangerous judgement errors and making the best possible decisions is in my book, “Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters.” Now the best free resource I can offer you is to sign up for my Wise Decision Maker course, it’s going to be linked in the show notes, and of course the information about the book will be linked in the show notes as well. I will see you on the next episode of Wise Decision Maker and I wish for you to have the wisest decisions, my friends. Thank you.

     

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    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. His expertise and passion is using pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to develop the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (2020). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere.

    His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. Its hundreds of clients, mid-size and large companies and nonprofits, span North America, Europe, and Australia, and include Aflac, IBM, Honda, Wells Fargo, and the World Wildlife Fund. His expertise also stems from his research background as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University. He published dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Behavior and Social Issues and Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

    He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on September 24, 2019.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154259 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154259 0
    8 Key Steps to Effective Leadership Decision Making to Avoid Disasters (Videocast and Podcast of the “Wise Decision Maker Show”)  

    Avoiding disastrous decisions and maximizing success through effective leadership decision making involves:

    1) Deciding the decision criteria

    2) Weighing the importance of criteria

    3) Grading your options using the criteria

    4) Checking with your head and gut

    5) Sticking to your choice

    This is the key takeaway message of this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, which describes the technique for Avoiding Disastrous Decisions.

     

    Videocast: “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions via Effective Leadership Decision Making”

     

    Podcast: “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions via Effective Leadership Decision Making”

     

    Relevant Links

     

    • Here’s the in-depth article on “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions”
    • If you’d like case studies with in-depth guidelines of how you can apply the “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” strategy as an individual or a team, see the Manual on Avoiding Disastrous Decisions.
    • The book Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters is available here.
    • You are welcome to register for the Wise Decision Maker Course and get a digital version of the assessment for free as part of the course.
    • Article on the assessment to evaluate dangerous judgment errors in your workplace.
    • Article on a quick technique to making the right day-to-day decisions at work
    • Article on a thorough technique for making important decisions
    • Article on an in-depth technique for making critically important decisions
    • Article on a thorough technique to prevent failure and maximize success when implementing decisions
    • Article on a thorough technique to make wise strategic plans
    • Article on mental skills and habits to defeat dangerous judgment errors

    Full Transcript

     

    Welcome to another episode of the “Wise Decision Maker” guide. Have you ever heard the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”? Well, when the going gets tough for wise decision makers, wise decision makers get “mathing”. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know any calculus or advanced math to do this. Simple algebra, stuff you use on profit and loss statement works fine for you to make really complex and hard decisions relatively clear and simple.

    Today, we’ll discuss a pragmatic and effective strategy that you can use to do that. That you can apply to the most critical, the most important, the most complex decisions that you are facing, and make them in a clear and transparent manner that will help you and your team make the best decisions possible, maximize your success and avoid threats and problems on these critically tough choices.

    Now, why do you need to do math anyway, right? Many people like to ask me that. Well, because our brains are not really very good with intuitions and gut reactions. They are really bad, especially the tough, tough decisions that you have to make that are really complex, really big, and really challenging. Bet the company decisions, like hiring a new CEO, launching a major new product, choosing a major new company strategy, deciding to enter a huge new market. These are really tough decisions and that matter a lot and our brains are really bad at dealing with them.

    Or let’s say, bet your career decisions like leaving your cushy corporate job to start a new non-profit or joining the leadership team of a failing company that you’re really hoping to turn around, or perhaps really important personal decisions like deciding to move to a new city or buying a house. These are huge decisions and we need in those cases to get as far away from our intuitions as possible and numbers using math help us do so.

    Now, If you’ve been following the Wise Decision Maker guide for a while, you know that our gut is adapted for the ancient savannah not the modern world. So our gut reactions are really bad indicators for making wise decisions in situations that don’t involve savannah-like saber-tooth tiger fight or flight reflexes like getting out of the way of a moving bus. Yeah, go with your gut in that state, but if you are making a decision about which house to buy, don’t go with your gut. If you are making a decision on which new job to accept, don’t go with your gut. Think about these things, if you are deciding about a new product to launch, don’t go with your gut. And our instincts are really terrible at numbers and in-depth analysis and numbers and in-depth analysis are exactly what you need to use for those really complex, tough decisions, matter a great deal to your success.

    Now, unfortunately, you’ll very often hear business gurus, self-help gurus, and fire-walking gurus telling you that especially at the most critical decisions, you need to go with your gut. Really terrible, terrible advice. And it’s not like they’re evil, it’s not like they’re wanting you to fail, but they’re just telling you what’s comfortable and going with your gut is always the most comfortable thing. That’s the nature of going with your gut, it’s comfortable, it feels good. Going with our gut feels good but it’s really bad for us, especially in those critical decisions. They do what gets them paid: telling you to do what’s comfortable for you and that’s really unfortunate for your success. It’s very bad for your success on those really critically important decisions.

    So, our emotions are especially going to steer us away from the right path on those really bet the company, bet the career, bet your personal finance decisions and they will cause us to fall into the dangerous judgment errors that result from how our brains are wired, from our evolutionary heritage, that scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics, people like myself call “cognitive biases”.

    So those critically important choices, you need to work especially hard to go against your intuitions and you need to work especially hard to use your head and not your gut, to not use your primitive instincts and instead focus on being as civilized as possible and using the learned complex behaviors of mathematics and analysis to have the best chance of making the right call on those tough job decisions.

    I’ll share an easy-to-use strategy that you can use for this called “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” that I developed to use with my clients. So in addition to my scholarship, I’ve been doing a scholarship for over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at Ohio State, I was also doing and am doing speaking, consulting, coaching and training for business leaders. And with them, I have been applying this strategy called “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” and we’ve perfected it now and so I’m sharing it with you for folks who may not be able to hire me to actually help you make those tough, tough choices. But you can still take advantage of this research-based expertise, that has been tested on the front lines of business reality.

    So, before I go into the strategy itself, let me share a story of how I used this strategy and I used this strategy when I was looking at my personal financial life to buy a house. In fact, it’s exactly this house where I’m living right now. You can see the house right around me — that’s my office.

    So, let me tell you a story. My wife and business partner, Agnes, and I were doing house shopping and that was in… I believe in 2016, we were doing house shopping, looking for a house in the summer of 2016, and I remember entering the backyard of this house that we were in — it was an intense day of house searching, and it was beautiful, it was like entering a lush grove. It was just gorgeous, there were shady trees, they protected us from the summer heat. It was amazing and I was just thinking “oh, what will this backyard be like in the fall, all those gorgeous colors? I love fall colors, I just go watching the trees in fall colors so, it would have been amazing to have that in the back yard so I was thinking. So, it would have been kind of a magical experience and I imagined myself lying in the hammock under the trees in the early fall and watching the leaves fall, so I had a really great experience and Agnes, my wife and business partner, also had a great experience. She loved the house, it was great, the backyard, we were both in love with the back yard, she really liked the kitchen and it was great. So, we didn’t realize at that time that the backyard was kind of a trap. Yeah, it was a trap. It was essentially something that really couldn’t deliver on the emotional promise that it made when we entered that back yard.

    But we didn’t realize it at the moment, so we were really excited and we asked our realtor to bid on the house. We were just motivated by the attachment to the one aspect of the house, the backyard, that was really great for us. And that’s a cognitive bias. That’s an error. It’s called “attentional bias,” where we are focusing on what is most emotionally appealing to us about the situation, as opposed to the whole situation, making a thorough, very effective and very considered judgment on such a hugely important decision.

    So Agnes and I made that bad decision on the day of the house search, we were kind of exhausted. But we slept on it and we were more clear minded the next morning so we applied the “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique to try to map our decision by comparing that house with the backyard to our second-choice house. And I took a photo of our calculations, actually. It’s in the book that I made, one of my first self-published books called “The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide.” Here you can see the photo of this calculation. It was kind of a back of the napkin calculation (not back of a napkin but you know what I mean). It was kind of on paper because we weren’t using a spreadsheet, we were just kind of writing it out together.

    So we compared that house and that was the first-choice house that’s labeled 170 here, and that’s the second choice house labelled 450. So 170 and 450. Now, to avoid excessive attachment to any part of the house, we wrote out the various parts of the house, which is in the first column, and then we gave each a quality rating from one to three. And then, to account for the actual usage of the house, we again gave a similar rating for expected usage. So there is quality rating and usage rating. And next, we multiplied the quality by the usage to give an overall weighted rating. And of course we separated them individually. So, this was A for Agnes and this was G for Gleb for both the houses. So A for Agnes for house 170, which was our first choice. G for house 170, which was our first choice. And again, same thing for the second choice, for 450, A and G.

    And finally, we added them all up at the bottom. And both of us were really surprised by the result, it’s kind of hard to see here, but basically, our second-choice house beat our first-choice house, by a lot. It was 95 to 67.5. That’s a huge difference, that’s — 95 to 67.5, that’s almost a 50% difference. So very big difference. Huge difference. We tried to jiggle the numbers, we played around with them and no, it was still a huge difference.

    So, what was the nature of the difference? Well partially, we realized that we’d use the backyard for only a part of the year. Maybe half the year at most, we’d really get enjoyment out of the backyard. So the usage was lower for the backyard. So the house we live in right now, 450, it has a much less fun, fancy backyard but we are not going to use it nearly as much. However, 450, where we live right now, has a very nice screened-in heated porch, so Florida room, which we can just sit in year-round and we use that, and we check out the outside even when it’s snowing. Whereas the other house, 170, which used to be our first choice didn’t have anything like that. Also it had a kind of a poor arrangement for the furniture we wanted to bring, so that was not great. The kitchen was nicer in our original first-choice house, but I don’t use the kitchen much, so I rated it lower. And the first-choice house had less bathrooms, and that was going to be kind of inconvenient. It’s nice to live in the house that we currently live where Agnes and I both have a bathroom of our own. So, we realized we made a serious error. But fortunately, it wasn’t like something that cost us money yet, so we called our realtor, we asked her to change the bid from 170 quickly to 450 and, it wasn’t a problem and we didn’t put down any deposit money or anything like that. And we were very excited when our bid on 450, the house where we live in right now, was accepted. It was very exciting. So it was really awesome. We moved in and haven’t looked back since. We are very happy with this current house. And the backyard works out fine, although it doesn’t have the beautiful trees that the other one would have had.

    So, I really shudder to think what would have happened if we got that other house, would have been really inconvenient, kind of crammed, with the layout of the house and it would have been really annoying to share the bathrooms. So that wouldn’t have been great. We’d have spent the long winter looking out the windows, whereas here, we still have the Florida room and we can see stuff around us — it’s very nice. Also, here there’s a pine tree in the front of the house, and we got evergreen right in front of the house all year round. It’s great.

    So, what — I want to ask you — what problems attentional bias might cause you like it caused us for that house? When, perhaps you’d be too drawn in by an aspect of a new position that’s offered to you and forget to look at all other aspects of this position, think about and consideration. Perhaps you’d be very attracted by a certain aspect of a merger, perhaps a company has really great technology that you want, but then you’re not thinking about its internal culture and how that might very seriously clash with your internal culture. Or you could have the same sort of mistake when, let’s say, you are looking to buy a car and you’re not thinking about all aspects of the car. You’re just attracted by how you feel when you drive it. For example.

    And remember, attentional bias is one of over a hundred cognitive biases that could pose a serious problem for you when you are making really, really important decisions. Now, by applying the “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique, you can address a lot of these cognitive biases automatically. And that’s what helped Agnes and I make the wise decision on buying a house and can help you make a wise decision in critically important situations. So, use this technique when it’s worth it to spend some serious time on the calculation. It should take you probably about an hour or so to go through the whole technique and if you’re doing it together with a team, probably closer to 2 hours.

    Now, why does it take that long? Partially because I suggest you use it together with the technique called “Making The Best Decisions” and that’s a more broad technique that applies to all aspects of the decision making process from start to finish, whereas “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique simply applies to the step where you make a choice between 2 or more options rather than other aspects of the decision process. So I tell all of my clients to use the “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique together with “Making the Best Decisions” technique. And that is much better, much more effective when you use those two techniques together for your really serious, critically important decisions. And the blog to “Making The Best Decisions” technique will be linked in the show notes of the episode.

    So, let’s go on to the “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique, which is what we’re talking about today. It has 8 steps.

    So first, you want to list your decision-making criteria. Write down all the important and relevant attributes of the decision that you will be making. So what kind of criteria do you want to use to make the decisions? You want to stick to no more than 10 criteria if at all possible and don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis trying to list all the possible things. Aim for 10. If it’s less that’s great, really don’t go for more, it really won’t help unless it’s a super super critically important decision.

    Now, for making a key hire, let’s say you’re hiring the CEO or the COO. Think about using criteria such as “salary requirements,” “fit into organizational culture,” “ability to perform job,” “connections outside the organization”, “contribution to diversity,” and so on. So these are the kind of criteria that you are rating. If you’re going through this process as a team, brainstorm the categories and then vote which ones should make it into the top 10 and then put them into a web app for easy calculation. Now, the nice thing about “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique is that to make mathing easier for you, we created a web app to help guide you through this process and that’s linked in the blog that is linked in the show notes about “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique so you can easily find it and put the information into the web app.

    Step 2: Weigh the attributes. Decide which ones are most important to you. So, use a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is the lowest importance and 10 is the highest importance. When Agnes and I used the technique for the house we made 1 to 3. I later did some more research and revised that technique because it seems like that’s not a large enough interval to make meaningful differentiation, significantly important differentiation. That’s why I raised it to 10 based on subsequent research that has come out. Now, make sure to use this step honestly. Evaluate really truly what criteria are the most important to you. So for example, let’s say you have a great budget and you can say that “salary requirements” are not that important to you. So, you can put salary requirements at 4, but let’s say it’s critical that somebody matches your organizational culture, so you make “fit into the organizational culture” at 9, meaning again, it’s a critical factor for success in the hire that you make. And if you’re doing this with a team, come up with weights independently and anonymously and then just average them out together.

    Alright, step 3. This is where you rank the options on the criteria. Rank each option on the criteria that you are choosing using all the attributes that you wrote up earlier. Use a decision matrix table, rank each option from 1–10. So, for example, 1 would be lowest, 10 would be highest. So again, let’s say you are preparing Mary, John, and Ella for this CEO job. You say that, for some requirements John doesn’t have very high salary requirements so he is an 8. So he’s quite good on that. Then Ella has high salary requirements so she would be a 5 on the salary requirements. And then Mary has really high salary requirements so then she would be a 2. So that’s how you would rank the options on each of the criteria that you choose. And if, again, if you are doing this as a team, brainstorm rankings together and then average them out.

    Alright, step 4. You math it. The web app does that automatically for you. What you do, essentially you multiply the weight of the criteria by the ranking. I’m not going to go through it in detail. It’s all lined out in the blog and the web app does it automatically for you.

    Now Step 5. Step 5. You might be surprised by this one. But I’m going to recommend that you check with your gut. Now the gut causes you to make many mistakes so you don’t want to rely on it too much; however, it can be quite helpful in certain situations where your intuitions might catch something that your rational logical analysis would not. So, you want to check with your gut. Think about whether you’d be surprised by the outcome. Think about, would you look back and wish you had a different decision? You made a different decision. So think about these things. Play around a little bit with the numbers, with the weighting and ranking — try not to fit them to your preferred option but play around with them a little bit and align them. See what would happen if you rejiggle them to align with your gut intuitions.

    Now, the next step is when you check with your head. You want to make sure to always check with your head while consulting your gut. Always check with your head. Never trust your gut, simply by itself, always check with your head. So, here is where you check for potentially dangerous judgment errors. I mentioned there are over 100 potential dangerous judgment errors. I made a list of 30 that are most, most applicable to business settings and I made an assessment for you to evaluate whether they’re present in your organization, in your team, in your decision-making process. And that’s a blog that will be linked in the show notes to this episode. So, pay particular attention to cognitive biases which you know you are vulnerable to. So, I, for example, I know I’m vulnerable to optimism bias. I tend to think that the grass is greener on the other side of the hill. So, I know I need to really watch out for that. I tend to be risk-blind and not think about the negatives sufficiently. So, pay particular attention to those things and again, focus specifically on dangerous judgment errors that might come from looking at your gut and consulting it too much because you just did it from the previous step. So again, play around with the numbers by compensating for some of the dangerous judgment errors and see what kind of numbers you get this time.

    Okay, so, you did that. Now, get to step 7: set red flags. Decide what kind of red flags you want to make for evaluating whether your decision is not going well. So if relevant new evidence emerges to influence the rankings, what kind of evidence would it be? So, for example, let’s say you are very close to hiring Ella. And then you are consulting the references and one of the references has something pretty negative about Ella. Then you want to be able to integrate that into the rankings and consider how the rankings would be impacted by this information. So that’s important so that you are not swayed by short-term emotions when any new information bubbles up because what this reference says about Ella, compared to all the other evidence you have, it might not be that relevant. So you want to be able to compare it effectively and not have attentional bias on this one thing that this reference said. And you also don’t want to deal with simmering disagreements within the team if you have different thoughts about what option should have been chosen. And then when anything goes wrong about the decision, when any problems come up, people say, “oh, I told you so. You shouldn’t have gone with that.” You decide on the red flags in advance and you say, “if this happens, we will reconsider the decision or we will play around with the rankings.”

    Alright, at that step, the web app automatically allows you to math things, to multiply things out, and see what is the best option for you and what you want to do is make that choice and stick to it. Commit to it and go forward with the choice unless one of the red flags situations happens. Now, making a commitment has been shown by extensive research to make you personally much more likely to be happy with your choice and significantly, significantly decrease conflict in the team setting. So, you made that choice and that is the “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique.

    Check out, again, the blog. I mention a number of blogs. There’s the blog on “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique itself that’s linked in the show episode notes. The blog on the 30 most dangerous judgment errors is linked there and the blog on the “Making the Best Decisions” technique.

    Now, my goal with the Wise Decision Maker Guide episodes is to provide you with the utmost, best value possible in avoiding the mental blind spots, cognitive biases that’s caused us to make terrible decisions and really hurt us going down the road, going into the future and I hope that learning about the “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique has helped you do so. Please share your thoughts about it. Has it helped you? Where do you think you might use it? In your personal life, in your professional life, in your organization? How do you think it might be helpful to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments to the episode.

    Now, I would like you to click “like” if you liked this episode and to make sure to subscribe if you haven’t yet, to continue getting the “Wise Decision Maker” guide. Make sure to share this episode with other folks who you want to avoid disastrous decisions by using the “Avoiding Disastrous Decisions” technique. And follow me on social media, you’ll see some links to it, to get not simply, the new content on the Wise Decision Maker guide, but also all other content that I create on avoiding disastrous decisions and making the wisest decisions by addressing cognitive biases. And also content that I curate from other folk who make similar insights on how to address dangerous judgment errors. You can learn much more about this topic in my book on avoiding dangerous judgment errors in business settings and making the best decisions called “Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters”. Now the best free resource I can offer on this topic is to sign up for the Wise Decision Maker Course which is linked in the show notes to this episode. And I hope to see you on the next episode of the “Wise Decision Maker” guide. Wishing you the wisest decisions, my friends.

     

    Image credit: Disaster Avoidance Experts

     

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    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. His expertise and passion is using pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to develop the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (2020). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere.

    His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. Its hundreds of clients, mid-size and large companies and nonprofits, span North America, Europe, and Australia, and include Aflac, IBM, Honda, Wells Fargo, and the World Wildlife Fund. His expertise also stems from his research background as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University. He published dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Behavior and Social Issues and Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

    He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on October 8, 2019.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154268 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154268 0
    Are You Falling for the Myth of “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail”?

     

    You probably heard the business advice of “failing to plan is planning to fail.” That phrase is a misleading myth at best and actively dangerous at worst. Making plans is important, but our gut reaction is to plan for the best-case outcomes, ignoring the high likelihood that things will go wrong.

    A much better phrase is “failing to plan for problems is planning to fail.” To address the very high likelihood that problems will crop up, you need to plan for contingencies.

    When was the last time you saw a major planned project suffer from a cost overrun? It’s not as common as you might think for a project with a clear plan to come in at or under budget.

    For instance, a 2002 study of major construction projects found that 86% went over budget. In turn, a 2014 study of large IT projects found that only 16.2% succeeded in meeting the original planned resource expenditure. Of the 83.8% of projects that did not, the average IT project suffered from a cost overrun of 189%.

    Such cost overruns can seriously damage your bottom line. Imagine if a serious IT project such as implementing a new database at your organization goes even 50% over budget, which is much less than the average cost overrun. You might be facing many thousands or even millions of dollars in unplanned expenses, causing you to draw on funds assigned for other purposes.

    Moreover, cost overruns often spiral out of control, resulting in even bigger disasters. Let’s say you draw the extra money from your cybersecurity budget. As a result, you’ve left yourself open to hackers, who successfully stole customer data, resulting in both bad PR and loss of customer trust.

    What explains cost overruns? They largely stem from the planning fallacy, our intuitive belief that everything will go according to plan, whether in IT projects or in other areas of business and life. The planning fallacy is one of many dangerous judgment errors, which are mental blindspots resulting from how our brain is wired that scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics call cognitive biases. We make these mistakes not only in work, but also in other life areas, for example in our shopping choices, as revealed by a series of studies done by a shopping comparison website.

    Fortunately, recent research in these fields shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to address these dangerous judgment errors, whether in your professional life, your relationships, your shopping choices, or other life areas.

    You need to evaluate where cognitive biases are hurting you and others in your team and organization. Then, you can use structured decision-making methods to make “good enough” daily decisions quickly; more thorough ones for moderately important choices; and an in-depth one for truly major decisions.

    Such techniques will also help you implement your decisions well, and formulate truly effective long-term strategic plans. In addition, you can develop mental habits and skills to notice cognitive biases and prevent yourself from slipping into them.

    For instance, we can address the planning fallacy by planning around it. Such planning involves anticipating what problems might come up and addressing them in advance by using the research-based technique of prospective hindsight, by envisioning yourself in the future looking back at potential challenges in the present. It also involves recognizing that you can’t anticipate all problems, and building in a buffer of at least 40% of the project’s budget in additional funds. If things go better than anticipated, you can always use the money for a different purpose later.

    Besides this broad approach, my consulting clients have found three specific research-based techniques effective for addressing the planning fallacy.

    First, break down each project into component parts. An IT firm struggled with a pattern of taking on projects that ended up losing money for the company. We evaluated the specific component parts of the projects that had cost overruns and found that the biggest unanticipated money drain came from permitting the client to make too many changes at the final stages of the project. As a result, the IT firm changed their process to minimize any changes at the tail end of the project.

    Second, use your past experience with similar projects to inform your estimates for future projects. A heavy equipment manufacturer had a systemic struggle with underestimating project costs. In one example, a project that was estimated to cost $2 million ended up costing $3 million. We suggested making it a requirement for project managers to use past project costs to inform future projections. Doing so resulted in much more accurate project cost estimates.

    Third, for projects with which you have little past experience, use an external perspective from a trusted and objective source. A financial services firm whose CEO I coached wanted to move its headquarters after it outgrew its current building. I connected the CEO with a couple of other CEO clients who recently moved and expressed a willingness to share their experience. This experience helped the financial services CEO anticipate contingencies he didn’t previously consider, ranging from additional marketing expenses to print new collateral with the updated address to lost employee productivity due to changing schedules as a result of a different commute.

    If you take away one message from this article, remember that the key to addressing cost overruns is to remember that “failing to plan for problems is planning to fail.” Use this phrase as your guide to prevent cost overruns and avoid falling prey to the dangerous judgment error of planning fallacy.

    Key Takeaway

     

    Because we usually feel that everything is going to go according to plan, we don’t pay nearly enough attention to potential problems and fail to account for them in our plans. This problem is called a planning fallacy. Click To Tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

    • Do you agree that “failing to plan is planning to fail” is misleading? If not, why not?
    • Where have you seen the planning fallacy lead to problems for your team and organization?
    • How might you help your team and organization address the planning fallacy? What are some next you can take to do so?

     

    Image credit: Pixabay/Rawpixel

     

     

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    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. His expertise and passion is using pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to develop the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (2020). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere.

    His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. Its hundreds of clients, mid-size and large companies and nonprofits, span North America, Europe, and Australia, and include Aflac, IBM, Honda, Wells Fargo, and the World Wildlife Fund. His expertise also stems from his research background as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University. He published dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Behavior and Social Issues and Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

    He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on October 27, 2019.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154274 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154274 0
    Your SWOT Analysis is Broken (Here’s How You Can Fix It)

     

    Isn’t it wonderful to have certainty, confidence, and clarity about what you’re going to do going forward? In the context of our increasingly disrupted, globalizing, and multicultural world, business leaders greatly appreciate the security and comfort of clear-cut strategic plans for the future. After all, following our in-the-moment intuitions frequently leads to business disasters, and strategic plans help prevent such problems.

    Tragically, popular business strategic analyses meant to address the weaknesses of human thinking through structures and planning are deeply flawed. They give a false sense of comfort and security to business leaders who use them, leading these leaders into the exact business disasters that they seek to avoid.

    Take the most popular of them, the SWOT analysis, where you try to figure out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats facing your business. SWOT doesn’t account for the dangerous judgment errors revealed by recent research in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience.

    These mental blindspots — what scholars call cognitive biases — turn a SWOT analysis from a potentially valuable tool into a dangerous handicap. Relying on SWOT to inform your strategic plans without accounting for cognitive biases results in appalling oversights that ruin profitable businesses and bring down high-flying careers.

    Fortunately, recent research shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to address these dangerous judgment errors, whether in your professional life, your relationships, your shopping choices, or other life areas.

    In order to succeed, you need to evaluate where cognitive biases are hurting you and others in your team and organization. Then, you can use structured decision-making methods to make “good enough” daily decisions quickly; more thorough ones for moderately important choices; and an in-depth one for truly major decisions.

    Such techniques will also help you implement your decisions well, and formulate truly effective long-term strategic plans. In addition, you can develop mental habits and skills to notice cognitive biases and prevent yourself from slipping into them.

     

    Mental Blindspots in Business Leadership

     

    How do cognitive biases apply to business leaders? One of the most dangerous mental blindspots for business leaders is overconfidence bias. Scholars have found that business leaders at all levels — upper, middle, and lower management — tend to be overconfident, and make bad decisions as a result.

    You might not be surprised that those who were most successful in the past are the ones who grow most overconfident. In fact, such people tend to believe themselves to not be prone to dangerous judgment errors, which is itself a mental blindspot called bias blind spot. To quote Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

    A related problem is the optimism bias, our tendency to look at life through rose-colored glasses. Research shows that top leaders — whether CEOs or entrepreneur-founders — are especially likely to be excessively optimistic about their success, which harms their ability to make effective strategic plans. They tend to overvalue their skills, knowledge, and ability. Such optimism results in problems ranging from too-high earnings forecasts to paying too much when acquiring companies to bad corporate investments.

     

    Cognitive Biases and SWOT

     

    How does this play out in relation to SWOT? When taking on new coaching and consulting clients, I always ask whether they have strategic plans. Of the approximately 70% of my clients who have done some kind of strategic planning, whether for their business or their personal careers, a little over half have done a SWOT analysis.

    You know what I find? They invariably — and I mean always, in every case that I’ve seen — list too many opportunities and strengths, and too few weaknesses and threats. Their overconfidence and optimism biases lead them to disregard risks and overestimate rewards. Such problems apply not only to SWOT, but also to other popular strategic assessments, such as scenario planning.

    For example, consider Saraj, a technology startup founder. His venture capital investors encouraged him to turn to me for coaching as his company passed the $10 million mark in equity.

    Saraj showed me the SWOT he did himself several months earlier for his own role as a leader. I was surprised that he didn’t list effective delegation as an area of weakness, since some of the investors who directed him to me expressed that as a topic of concern.

    Asking him about it, I heard an immediate defensive tone. Clearly, I hit on a sore spot. He felt strong ownership of what he perceived as the core activities in the startup, flinching away from the possibility of delegating these tasks.

    Indeed, SWOT allows business leaders to sweep under the rug those areas of weakness and threats about which they feel defensive. Their optimism and overconfidence serve to justify failure to address these problems. With Saraj, a research-based technique of effective communication enabled me to persuade him that effective delegation makes him a stronger leader, one capable of best serving the startup in the long term.

    It’s particularly problematic when SWOT is performed in a group setting, since cognitive biases are often exponentially increased in such environments. One particularly big problem is known as groupthink, where groups tend to coalesce around the opinions of a powerful leader.

    Martha, the CEO of a Midwestern healthcare company that runs several hospitals for whom I started consulting in early 2016, showed me her SWOT analysis from mid-2015. I was surprised to see that her analysis failed to include any discussion of political threats to Obamacare, despite her company’s growing reliance on patients covered under that program.

    We discussed the matter, and she told me that she didn’t see much probability of a threat to Obamacare and neither did other leaders in the healthcare company. To me, it was a clear example of groupthink, ignoring the elephant in the room (and on the ballot).

    I eventually convinced her otherwise, and we developed some plans in the event of problems arising in this area. She was very glad we had done so when political headwinds threatened Obamacare from 2017 onward.

    So next time you’re thinking about doing strategic planning, take some time to consider the dangers of the excessive confidence and optimism that you and your team very likely experience, at least if you’re successful. Watch out for these dangerous judgment errors by focusing much more than you intuitively feel is appropriate on risks, threats, and dangers, rather than achievements, hopes, and rewards. If you notice yourself or anyone else flinching away from an uncomfortable topic, double down your commitment to explore it thoroughly. Only through vigilance and discipline will you ensure that you can avoid the pride that goeth before a fall.

    Key Takeaway

     

    Cognitive biases lead to typical business strategic analyses such as SWOT giving a false sense of comfort and security. The result? Appalling oversights that ruin profitable businesses and bring down high-flying careers. Click To Tweet  

    Questions to Consider (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

     

    • Where have typical business strategic analyses caused problems for you and why?
    • What benefits can you gain from addressing cognitive biases as part of doing strategic analyses?
    • Which next steps will you take based on reading this article?

     

    Image Credit: Pxhere/Mohamad Hassan

     

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. His expertise and passion is using pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to develop the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (2020). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere.

    His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. Its hundreds of clients, mid-size and large companies and nonprofits, span North America, Europe, and Australia, and include Aflac, IBM, Honda, Wells Fargo, and the World Wildlife Fund. His expertise also stems from his research background as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University. He published dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Behavior and Social Issues and Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

    He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on November 7, 2019.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154277 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154277 0
    Why Your Negotiations Are Doomed (And How to Rescue Them)

     

     

    Negotiators, even professional ones, make surprisingly many wrong decisions that doom negotiations that should have succeeded. Many of these mistakes relate to overestimating how well they can read the feelings and thoughts of other parties in the negotiation, as well as the extent to which the other party can read their feelings and thoughts.

    For instance, research shows that negotiators who sought to conceal their desires did a better job than they thought they did. In turn, those who tried to convey information to those they negotiated with about their preferences overestimated their abilities to communicate such knowledge. Other scholarship shows that negotiators with less power are more prone to such mistakes than those with more power.

    Scholars call this erroneous mental pattern the illusion of transparency, referring to us overestimating the extent to which others understand us and how well we grasp others. This mental blindspot is one of many dangerous judgment errors — what scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioural economics call cognitive biases — that we make due to how our brains are wired. We make these mistakes not only in work but also in other life areas, for example in our shopping decisions.

    Fortunately, recent research in these fields shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to address these dangerous judgment errors, whether in your professional life, your relationships, your financial choices, or other life areas.

    You need to evaluate where cognitive biases are hurting you and others in your team and organization. Then, you can use structured decision-making methods to make “good enough” daily decisions quickly; more thorough ones for moderately important choices; and an in-depth one for truly major decisions.

    Such techniques will also help you implement your decisions well, and formulate truly effective long-term strategic plans. In addition, you can develop mental habits and skills to notice cognitive biases and prevent yourself from slipping into them.

    I observed a clear instance of illusion of transparency when an electric company brought me in as a consultant to mediate in failing contract negotiations between the management and the union. Both sides believed the other party to be unwilling to negotiate in good faith, asking too much and giving too little. The union demanded substantial wage hikes, strong job protection, and better retirement benefits, and the management pushed back strongly on each request.

    Quickly, I noticed that the illusion of transparency gravely inhibited progress. My private conversations with representatives from both sides showed that all felt they communicated their positions effectively, both the areas where they wanted to stand firm and where they felt willing to compromise. Yet these same conversations showed many areas of agreement and flexibility that neither side recognized.

    Why didn’t both sides explicitly outline their positions thoroughly and clearly, so that the other side understood exactly where they stood? Because they were afraid that the other party would take advantage of them if they explicitly stated their true positions, including the minimum they’d be willing to accept.

    So both sides tried to convey what was most important to them by arguing more strongly for certain points and less strongly for others. They believed that the other side would “get the hint.” Unfortunately, neither side “got the hint” of the true priorities of the other side.

    What I asked each side to do was use the decision-making strategy of weighing their priorities. After deploying this strategy, the union negotiators assigned first priority to increased job protection, second to better retirement benefits, and third to a large wage increase. The management negotiators used the same strategy and assigned first priority to no wage increase, second to decreased retirement benefits, and last to weaker job protection.

    By clarifying these priorities, the parties were able to find room for negotiation. The final contract included much-strengthened job protection, a moderate boost to retirement, and a small wage hike at just below inflation.

    The management appreciated the outcome since it didn’t have to spend as much money on labour; the union membership liked the peace of mind that came with job protection, even if they didn’t get the wage hike they would have liked.

    In any negotiation situation, remember that you’re very likely to be overestimating the extent to which you explained your position to the other party and how well you understand the other party’s perspective. The other party is most likely making the same mistakes regarding you.

    An easy way to address these problems is to use the decision-making strategy of weighing your priorities and having the other party do the same. Then, trade off your lowest priorities against their highest ones and vice versa. You can come to a win-win agreement where both parties realized the biggest gains and experience the least losses.

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    We intuitively overestimate how well others read us and how well we read others, a dangerous judgment error called the illusion of transparency. This mental blindspot leads to disastrous results in negotiations and communications. Click To Tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

     

    • How might the illusion of transparency have tripped up your personal or your organization’s negotiations in the past? Where might it trip them up in the future?
    • What value can you and your organization gain, in negotiations and other areas, from solving the illusion of transparency?
    • Which next steps might prove most effective for helping yourself and your organization address the illusion of transparency?

     

    Image credit: Pxhere/Rawpixel

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. His expertise and passion is using pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to develop the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (2020). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere.

    His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. Its hundreds of clients, mid-size and large companies and nonprofits, span North America, Europe, and Australia, and include Aflac, IBM, Honda, Wells Fargo, and the World Wildlife Fund. His expertise also stems from his research background as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University. He published dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Behavior and Social Issues and Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

    He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on November 15, 2019.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154281 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154281 0
    Decision Congruence for Making Better Decisions

    Guest Post on Making Better Decisions By Mark Faust

     

    What is the process you should use for making better decisions?

    Agree first on the process of making the decision

    1. Who owns the decision

    2. Who are the stakeholders

    3. What is the objective

    4. What are the alternatives

    5. What are the risks

    6. How will we decide

    Making Better Decisions Faster

    Are there decisions you have put off that could potentially be of great benefit to the company? Do you sometimes feel like you agonize over decisions? Here are a few tools that can help any leader deftly make better decisions quickly.

    If the decision is between alternatives you should put the options before you through a decision funnel consisting of your 1. Musts 2. Wants and 3. Potential Risks. First, you should list out the Musts that you need to meet. This will sometimes sift out options that just won’t cut it. Next, rank your Wants and see which options will most likely meet the most Wants. Finally, list potential Risks behind each remaining option. At this point, many decisions become obvious if not at least much clearer. You are looking for the best-balanced decision, which equates to the maximum benefit within the acceptable risk.

    On larger decisions, a more detailed Risk/Reward Analysis may be in order. If this is the case put your decision on the Decision Balancing Scale. I set these up by drawing a balance point that is like the center of a see-saw and it represents the status quo. This will become a center point on a scale from a negative 5 on the left to a positive 5 on the right.

    For each option, you will want to evaluate the significance of tilt that it will make toward either the negative or positive sides based on a scale of Risk vs. Reward. First, let’s give some ranking to the 1 through 5 ratings for reward. 1 would equal some minor improvement that only you would know about. 2 would equal a nice improvement that people around you could benefit from. 3 would equal benefit that is company-wide and people are talking about on a regular basis. 4 would equal customers flocking to your company. 5 could equal a game-changer for the company, industry or more.

    After rating the reward potential, do the same with the risks considering the following ratings. A -1 would be a minor annoyance. A -2 would be a problem you could solve. A -3 would be a problem for which you would have to get help and it would be made public in the company. A -4 would be a huge embarrassment. A -5 could be a problem so bad that it could be in the press.

    To make changes, the rewards must be a 2 or more or you might as well consider other potentials. On the negative side if the potential downsides are nearly a 4 or more then you may want to forget about taking such a risk.

    The problem for most leaders making decisions is that they aren’t using ANY objective criteria or tools like the above to evaluate the options available or the option of a go or no-go decision. Instead, far too many of us are languishing in thoughts and making decisions based on intuition when a much more helpful and objective approach could be applied. For all the truth and value behind listening to your gut and following your instincts which are often fueled by years of experience and data that is too vast to list out, the fact is that you could improve your decision making success by using more and more tools like the above to evaluate your options. This is also why bringing in an outsider who can bring an objective set of eyes to a set of decisions can also help you to increase your odds of success. Someone not burdened with the fears and concerns around the decision can bring unique wisdom that can accelerate success.

    — 

     

    More techniques on making better decisions:

     

    Image Credit: PxHere/Rawpixel.com/3353 Images

     

    — 

     

    Author Bio:

    Since 1990 Mark Faust has run www.EchelonManagement.com a growth and turnaround consultancy, providing facilitators and speakers who’ve worked with clients from the c-level of the Fortune 500 as well as owners of multi-generational family-owned companies.

    -

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on August 23, 2019.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154282 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154282 0
    The Psychology of Knowledge Management: Uniting the Majority Through Communities of Practice

    Guest Post By Brent N. Hunter

    Knowledge Management (KM) is the art and science of leveraging individual and collective knowledge for the benefit of all stakeholders. Psychology is the very foundation of KM because KM is all about people.  

    To best understand how to leverage individual and collective knowledge, we must utilize a common definition of knowledge. According to the Knowledge Management Institute (KMI), knowledge is understanding gained through experience, either ones’ own direct experience or the experience of others.  

    It is common knowledge that people who go through the same experience sometimes have different interpretations of the experience itself, and what they learned; what they understand. The reason for this is because everyone perceives the world through their own eyes and perspective.  

    It is because of this dynamic that it is important to understand how we can utilize the field of Knowledge Management specifically to gain deeper self-understanding for the benefit of ourselves and others. When we apply Knowledge Management principles to gain greater knowledge and understanding of ourselves and to increase our personal success and well-being, it is called Personal Knowledge Management (PKM). A greater understanding of ourselves allows us to optimize our success in applying KM to other environments, such as the places we work and in organizations in which we belong. The importance of the inscription on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Temet Nosce (Know Thyself in Latin), cannot be overstated.  

    Personal KM can be used to help us achieve a successful, prosperous and fulfilling career and it can also be used in our friendships and relationships, including love and romance. The basic goal is to leverage all of the knowledge available to us to live happier, healthier and more productive lives.  

    After working as a psychotherapist with many different types of clients, I developed a holistic synthesis of the major schools of psychology. This led to the creation of a 7-piece “Pieces of Our Puzzle” model that allows us to understand the various aspects of ourselves as pieces of a puzzle to be put together, which is a holistic framework for Personal KM. Each piece represents knowledge about the self, is a puzzle unto itself, and all of these pieces together represent the puzzle of our own lives. Understanding each of the individual components and all of them together leads to greater personal success and well-being. The following diagram illustrates these 7 key pieces:

    The “Pieces of Our Puzzle” model explains that who we are today is shaped based on a complex combination of the following seven components, similar to the pieces of a puzzle:

    1. Past Environment/Experiences

    2. Current Environment/Experiences

    3. Thoughts/Beliefs/Attitudes

    4. Emotions/Feelings

    5. Behaviors/Actions

    6. The Physical Body

    7. Sense of Intuition

     

    Based on whatever is happening in the present moment, it is important to look at each of the above pieces to understand how each one fits into our lives today. We can ask ourselves a series of questions and think about the experiences we’ve had to shed light onto and understand each of these seven different pieces. As a result of increasing knowledge and awareness of the relative importance and significance of the various pieces — which can change dramatically over time — we gain personal knowledge, self-mastery, productivity, and greater success in our lives.  

    Psychologically speaking, we know that there are things that can take place in life that slow our individual and collective progress, cause harm and create problems. When we experience these challenges, they are like kryptonite (an alien mineral that has the property of depriving the American superhero Superman of his powers) to our soul since we are left feeling depleted, weakened and discouraged. Since we have this common knowledge, we can leverage this understanding to take steps to minimize the kryptonite in our lives through the use of Personal Knowledge Management.  

    Now that we have a basic understanding of Personal KM, let us explore how KM can help in every area of our lives individually and collectively. It is beyond the scope of this article to fully describe the full suite of powerful KM strategies, tools and techniques available to us but here are a few key practices:  

    • Identifying, Leveraging and Sharing Best Practices
    • Implementing Lessons Learned Management Processes and Systems
    • On-Boarding and Off-Boarding
    • Knowledge Transfer/Sharing Through Knowledge Cafes, Brown Bag Sessions, Training, Buddy and Mentor Programs, etc.
    • Innovation Award Programs to Stimulate, Recognize and Reward Innovative and Creative Ideas
    • The Wisdom Aspect of the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom (DIKW) Pyramid to Help Ensure Optimal Decisions and Outcomes
    • Management of Risks and Threats to KM
    • Implementing Information/Knowledge Repositories
    • Communities of Practice
    • A Globally-Linked Network of Communities of Practice to Help Address The Most Pressing Issues of Our Time  

    The heart of KM is people, and one of the most powerful KM practices to harness the collective power of people is through the use of a Community of Practice (CoP). In a nutshell, a CoP is a group of people who share a similar concern or passion, such as Psychology, Engineering, Software Development, Knowledge Management, Program Management, etc., enabled by the power of technology to easily share, communicate and collaborate. A CoP allows us to come together, share our knowledge and experience, and create even more powerful outcomes as we work together collaboratively. An organization can have many different Communities of Practice, all of which can be integrated together by utilizing the power of modern technologies. Individually and collectively, we can consciously decrease the kryptonite in our lives. To use another superhero metaphor, we can also increase the spinach in our lives to increase our energy, vitality, progress, and success in our lives individually and collectively.  

    Psychology is the science of behavior and mind, and a primary goal of psychologists is to increase the quality of life for people. KM and psychology are similar because Knowledge Management can be used not only for improving the lives of individuals; it can also help improve the communities in which we live.  

    Toward this end, by creating a globally-linked network of Communities of Practice, we can come together with a common desire and intention to help address the most pressing issues of our time through calm, logical, level-headed Knowledge Management, conversation, dialogue and diplomacy. The psychology of Knowledge Management is about finding and living the superhero nature within us, coming together, sharing knowledge and wisdom, and working through our mutual challenges.  

    As Fritz Perls suggested, let us “ lose our heads and come to our senses “ and harness all of the history, knowledge, and experience we have to address the multiple simultaneous global crises in which we face. Those of us who are near the top of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs recognize that with opportunity comes responsibility. We share a responsibility as The Majority to rise up, stand together and speak as a united people. We stand at the precipice of an incredible and priceless opportunity, will you join us?  

    As Victor Hugo stated, “ there is indeed one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.”  

    Image Credit: www.PublicDomainVectors.com

    About The Author: Brent Hunter is a Master Certified Knowledge Manager and is a Project, Program, Portfolio and Knowledge Management Executive Consultant. Brent has multiple advanced degrees, is a graduate of General Electric’s fast-track Information Systems Management Program and holds twelve active professional certifications. Brent is an entrepreneur, producer, executive producer, former psychotherapist, National Certified Counselor and is an award-winning author of five books regarding the subjects of Knowledge Management, psychology and universal wisdom. The services Brent offers through his company Intelligent KM Services represent Hunter’s unique and groundbreaking interpretation of Knowledge Management and is based on his book titled The Power of KM: Harnessing the Extraordinary Value of Knowledge Management. Another of Hunter’s books is about universal wisdom which has received 22 literary awards ( The Rainbow Bridge: Bridge to Inner Peace and to World Peace). The connection between this book and Knowledge Management is important because wisdom is the apex of the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom Pyramid, an important conceptual framework in Knowledge Management.

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on November 29, 2019.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154287 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154287 0
    Wise Decision Maker Movement Manifesto (Videocast and Podcast of the “Wise Decision Maker Show”)

    The choice that feels most comfortable to your gut is often the worst decision for your bottom line. To be a truly wise decision maker, you have to adopt counterintuitive, uncomfortable, but highly profitable techniques to avoid business disasters by making the best decisions. That’s the key take-away message of this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, which describes the Wise Decision Maker Movement Manifesto.

     

    Videocast: “Wise Decision Maker Movement Manifesto”

     

    Podcast: “Wise Decision Maker Movement Manifesto”

    Links Mentioned in Videocast and Podcast

     

    • Here’s the article on the Wise Decision Maker Movement Manifesto
    • The book Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters is available here
    • You are welcome to register for the Wise Decision Maker Course

     

    Transcript

    Hey everyone! Welcome to another episode of the Wise Decision Maker. Today we’ll talk about the underlying principles of what I do. We’ll talk about the Wise Decision Maker Manifesto. That’ll be the topic for today, so it’s going to be a little bit longer than usual because these are the underlying principles, it’s a manifesto, right? We’ll be talking about why, what are the essentials behind making good decisions and the key take away message that I want to share with you is that honestly, the biggest falsehood in advice literature on decision making, whether it’s in business, whether it’s in relationships, communication, personal life, whatever, is “go with your gut”. You’ve probably heard this often. Be authentic, or some version of it. Like, be authentic, go with your gut, follow your instincts, trust your heart, something like that. You’ve probably heard that, right? The problem is it’s really really really bad advice. This super common advice is really bad. I’m going to tell you to never go with your gut. Never, never, never go with your gut, always check with your head first before making a decision. Even if it aligns with your gut or not, you want to make sure to check with your head — analyze your decision before making the decision.

     

    Now, I really have to say, I’m really sad, I’m frustrated, I’m angered when I see business leaders with whom I work often, usually these are not the people with whom I work. But when I see business leaders in the news and just around me, folks I know, who make really bad decisions and bring down their careers and even bring down profitable companies because they choose to go with their gut. It’s really sad, it’s really frustrating. They trust some fire-walking guru seminar where they went, and then they came back and they start going with their gut and they make really bad decisions. Or they trust their intuitions from earlier in their careers when their intuitions were a little bit more aligned with reality, we’ll talk about why they were more aligned with reality earlier in their careers but not later. So this is a big problem, people going with their gut, and I want to tell you to never go with your gut.

     

    This might seem a little bit extreme to you that I tell you this but stick with me. I think you’ll hear what I am saying. I think you will understand why I am telling you to never go with your gut by the end of the video or so my gut tells me.

     

    Alright, so, let’s talk about why we shouldn’t go with your gut. Why you shouldn’t and why I shouldn’t either. Well, let me tell you that when I was a kid, when I was a child, my parents told me to go with my gut, follow my heart, trust my intuitions. That was something really important and that’s something I internalized. So, when I went to school, I internalized this behavior and I behaved with other kids, in a way that was authentic to me, that I felt good about, that I felt was true to who I was. I told them about stuff I was really fascinated with, at that time it was military history and intellectual conversations. So naturally that made me the most popular kid in school. Not! I was kind of marginalized. I was a little bit of an outcast. But I kept behaving that way because I thought this was the right thing to do, my parents told me, they probably know what they are talking about. And as a kid it’s kind of hard to think about, well, with your parents — are they telling you the wrong things, right?

     

    When I was a teenager, a little bit more in my rebellious phase, I was kind of rethinking a lot of things, including that piece of advice and that led me to my interest in decision making. Why do people — that was one of the things that led to my interest in decision making — why do people behave the way they do, including towards me? And why do I behave the way I do? Why does following my intuitions really result in this bad advice, in this bad outcome? What I learned about this topic, I did the research on this topic, started reading some scholarship, I learned that following your own gut is actually really bad advice. It really leads you into the wrong direction. If you’re not naturally inclined to do what other people enjoy and appreciate, it causes you to have bad social interactions — not a good idea. So, unless you just happen to like what the majority of people like, you will not have good outcomes from going with your gut in your relationships.

     

    So, I started changing my behavior. I didn’t behave in an authentic manner. I behaved in a way that would appeal to other people. And really, I pretty quickly became part of the “in” crowd. You know, I remember someone saying to me, “hey, you know, you used to not be cool but, you know, but you’re cool now”. And those words really struck me. I remember them — I still remember them. I mean, the person who told me these words probably has no idea that they are striking but they’re still in me. I feel a strong sense of connection to those words and I feel kind of proud that I was able to change myself and behave in an inauthentic way but one that got me to my goals.

     

    And here is the research behind this. Recent research shows that we’re not evolved for the modern world. Whether in business, whether in school, whether in any other social interactions, the large majority of what we do doesn’t look like that ancient savannah. But our gut intuitions, our emotions, our feelings, our instincts — that’s what they are evolved for.

     

    And, for the sake of our bottom lines, for the sake of our relationships, for the sake of effective good personal mental and physical health, it’s very important to avoid trusting those primitive, primal, intuitive instincts and instead, be civilized. Choose to follow learned behavior ,which is the essence of civilization, right? Learned behaviors. Learned behaviors that lead you to your goal in making good decisions and having good outcomes for yourself. And that way you’ll entrust the dangerous judgment errors that scholars and cognitive neuroscientists and behavioral economists like myself and many others call cognitive biases.

     

    Cognitive biases are systematic and predictable errors. There are over 100 of them that we all tend to make because of the way that our brain is wired, because of our evolutionary heritage, because of the savannah and so on. This is a big problem. So, if our intuitions are such a bad match for the current world, why do so many people, so many gurus tell us to follow our gut, follow our intuitions? Because trusting our instincts feels very comfortable to us and to them. And more importantly for them and for us, we tend to choose what’s comfortable for us. So not only does it feel good to us but we choose what’s comfortable, what feels good. Because, if it feels good, it feels right. The good feeling, “this feels good”, it also is the same thing as “it feels right”, regardless of the fact that it may not be the right choice for you at all. Just like it wasn’t the right choice for me as a kid to behave in an authentic way if I wanted actual social relationships with people in my school. So that was a big problem.

     

    So, unfortunately, you get this advice partially because gurus who tell you advice, literature that tells you to do what’s comfortable for you, they get the big bucks. People don’t want to hear that they should do what’s uncomfortable for them. People who speak uncomfortable truths usually get ignored, rather people who say, “do what you want to” and you know, they are the ones who get support and get popular and get paid.

     

    Now, let me give you an example. What would you rather hear about? Someone describing some delicious, delightful, delectable dozen donuts or someone telling you how to maintain your physical health? Can’t you just imagine that box filled with those donuts, mmm, they’re so delicious, that Boston Cream Pie — that’s my favorite actually, chocolate glazed donuts, I like those too, strawberry jelly, custard, chocolate sprinkles, lemon cream — ooh that’s nice, that’s a nice one there. So delicious, I’m making myself hungry. Now you might be getting hungry as well hearing this and you would really, rather your gut would really rather listen to that than someone telling you uncomfortable truths about how to maintain your health, if perhaps you’re not maintaining your health as well as you could be, which sure describes most of us, you know, I’m not perfect in that regard either.

     

    “Go with your gut.” That advice to “go with your gut” is the equivalent of the dozen donuts dessert of business advice, of relationship advice, of any other advice. That’s the equivalent. The box of donuts contains more calories than we should eat in a day. However, our gut wants the donuts. It doesn’t want the healthy but much, much less intuitively appealing dessert of having a fruit platter. So, too often we choose a dessert that’s really not good for us and we know in the back of our head it’s not really good for us. And the same thing with a business option. We choose a business option, relationship decision or someone that’s really not good for us, but we regret it later but we choose it because it’s really comfortable and appealing to us in the moment.

     

    In that ancient savannah, why is this important? Well, why do we choose to get the dozen donuts? In the ancient savannah, which is where the gut is adapted for, it was crucial, crucial, crucial to eat as much sugar as possible. That’s what enabled us to survive. Our gut reactions still push us to eat as much sugar as possible, regardless of the fact that it’s not very good for us. So, regardless of this harm in the modern world. And at the core, making a business decision based on gut reactions is like eating a dozen donuts instead of the fruit platter. Unfortunately, many business decisions that are like this, going with your gut are actually much worse than eating a dozen donuts instead of a fruit platter.

     

    So at this point, you might be hesitant about what I’m saying. You might tell yourself, “hey, I have a lot of advice in my business, my relationships, my personal life, following my gut intuitions”. So, great for you. Now unfortunately, the term “gut reactions” is a very fuzzy concept. It’s not clear. It describes both very useful and very trustworthy behaviors that we’ve developed and quite, quite harmful tribal primal reactions.

     

    So, for example, there are a lot of terms for intuitive behaviors that you might have learned. You might have learned to how to delegate effectively without micromanaging. That’s a really, really hard behavior to learn. It’s very unintuitive to us. But you learned it. You might have learned how to manage your time effectively. That’s a really hard behavior to learn. Can you think about it? It’s not intuitive at all to manage our time effectively. Maybe you learned how to do your sales pitch and immediately recognize whether it’s good for you or not. That’s a hard behavior. It’s not intuitive at all. Maybe you learned to not interrupt your spouse when they’re speaking. That’s a very unintuitive behavior for us as well.

     

    So, all of these unintuitive behaviors are behaviors that you have learned over time. And your decisions in these areas might be very quick, might very intuitive and very active. You might feel in your intuitions that you’re going with your gut. But what you are essentially doing is following a pattern of learned behaviors that you’ve internalized. And you’ve turned them into the equivalent of instincts. Just like you learned how to drive a car, right now you are not thinking about how to drive a car, you are just driving it, you’re driving it automatically. And that’s good, you know, it’s bad to think about all the ways there are of driving a car. So those instincts are quite trust-worthy. Now, think about it, you wouldn’t let someone drive a car without taking a driving course, would you? Of course, you wouldn’t.

     

    But business leaders don’t go for a decision-making course and get a decision-making license in order to go up in their positions of authority and become decision makers. Decision-makers from the basic level to a position of authority and then from that position of authority into an even higher, and higher, and higher, and higher authority. They simply observe other leaders, do what they do and they internalize the behaviors of those leaders, both bad behaviors and good behaviors. Unfortunately what happens in our minds is that we can’t tell the difference emotionally. We can’t tell the difference between tribal behaviors, ones that are instinctive and have come from the savannah and behaviors that result from healthy learned patterns where we make very quick and very accurate and very effective decisions. It can feel just as intuitive to grab another donut as it can feel to delegate your decisions effectively, to delegate effectively to a subordinate or to not interrupt your spouse while you are talking to your spouse. That’s why you should never go with your instincts and you should never go with your gut.

     

    Instead you should evaluate whether each internal impulse you get is coming from a place of accurate learned effective knowledge, or if it’s coming from a new area where you don’t have a history of making quick effective, critically important decisions or even not critically important, but just quick and effective decisions. If you don’t have a history of making those decisions or, if you don’t have a history of making necessarily accurate decisions, then you don’t want to trust that instinct. You know, we often feel, “this feels right”, or “this just doesn’t feel right”. Don’t trust that instinct. It’s often going to be based on the savannah environment. It might well be one of the over 100 dangerous judgement errors that we call cognitive biases that we tend to make as human beings.

     

    So, what we want to do is verify with your head, analyze the situation rather than going with your gut. Even in cases where you think you can rely on your intuition, it’s best to just slow down, and take the time to check with your head, to analyze the situation and make sure you are making the best decision for each situation. And of course, if it’s a minor decision, you don’t take much time to think about it. If it’s more of a major decision, you want to take more time to think this.

     

    Now I’ll give you and example where it feel that you know a lot about a situation, and you can trust your instincts. But it might seem surprising that you actually can’t. So, let’s say you know someone for a while, and you know them pretty well. You have an accurate read on them. And you get together with them, let’s say a business collaborator, and you get together with them one day and they seem really weird. They seem really hesitant. They are shifty. They are uncomfortable, they seem stressed. And the usual response to that according to extensive literature on deception lying and so on is to simply not trust that person and say, “okay, I’m not trusting what this person is saying, that’s just bad”.

     

    What actually happens in reality is that this person might have just gotten some bad news. You know, their spouse could have been in a car accident and they’re worried about what is happening in that situation. Or they might have got some bad business news, their critical supplier might have fallen down and they are worried about what to do. They are still having the meeting with you. So you shouldn’t pre-judge in those situations, In fact, there is extensive research, and you will be surprised by this, showing that the CIA, the FBI, various police agencies, and the NSA, the security officers, the officers who work there can’t tell if somebody is lying or not. They score about as well as dart throwing chimpanzees of determining whether someone is lying or not. The only agency, actually, in the United States whose officers can really determine whether someone is lying or not, statistically significant probability is the Secret Service. So, FYI. So, if the CIA can’t do it, you probably aren’t going to be that great at doing it either. So, you want to decrease your confidence in knowing whether someone is lying.

     

    I will give you another example, think about market changes. This is one of the biggest causes that brings down successful companies. Failing to notice important shifts in the market contexts, in those cases your extensive experience in the markets, your success, right? Your successful career, your successful business is actually causing you to make wrong decisions. You are kind of like a fish out of water. You are making decisions based on a context that’s not true anymore. So, it will cause you to miss crucial new threats and new opportunities. It will be really bad for you, you don’t want to do that. It may bring you to, in fact, it has brought many people to ruin, because more nimble competitors, younger people who haven’t been in your business for as long, but who can observe the shifting market, or newer companies are more nimble than your existing large business are able to adapt to the market much more carefully, much more quickly than you can. So that’s one more example. One from relationships, and one from broader strategy.

     

    I’m going to tell you something that might make you feel uncomfortable. Even more uncomfortable is traditional business strategic advice meant to address these things is really.. it doesn’t work very well, let’s just say it that way, because it doesn’t take into account the judgment errors that we tend to make as human beings. The most prominent example here is SWOT, where a group of business leaders tries to figure out the Strengths, the Weaknesses, the Opportunities, and the Threats facing their organization or their project. Now the problem with SWOT assessments is they really by and large fail to account for the cognitive biases we tend to suffer from. So that group that gets together and thinks about these things, they tend to very often suffer from problems like “groupthink” where they align on the opinions of the most prominent leader in that group, the most prominent, powerful person. And as a result, their assessments of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats just happens to be the same as that person’s as opposed to getting their various opinions together and figuring out the actual strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. That’s just one of the many problems with SWOT and I can name many others.

     

    Unfortunately, SWOT and similar assessments provide a false sense of comfort and security. I’ve seen this really often. People do the SWOT and they think “we are safe, we did the SWOT, we’re okay”, and they result in very bad oversights that often lead to business disasters and career disasters. You don’t want to do that.

     

    So, I want to get back to my story growing up because this is important for how I learned and decided to focus on this stuff and why making judgment errors in business and addressing judgment errors in business is really important to me and I think to you.

     

    So, I had that idea that “going with your gut” is already pretty bad when I was in my early teens. Then I came of age. So I was born in 1981 and around the time the dot com boom and bust happened in the 90s, early 2000s, I was becoming an adult essentially. And so I started following, really seriously following what was happening in the world and it was pretty shocking to me when I was looking at this that smart business people invested many many many millions, billions of dollars into companies that really didn’t have a profitable scheme of business. It was unclear to me how webvan or pet.com of these other companies would make a business. Many of them, they would say that they are ahead of their time, but that means that they are not profitable. And they wouldn’t be profitable for another two decades. Or something like that.

     

    It was a really bad situation and so, when the bust happened a lot of people lost millions and billions of dollars. That was very sad for me to see. What was even more frustrating was the accounting scandals that were happening. Oh, God, Oh that was incredibly frustrating, the accounting scandals with Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom. That was really terrible. Where prominent top of the line business leaders were engaging in scamming investors through fraudulent market practices. Reporting false profits. They used illegal accounting practices in order to cover-up their losses from the dot com boom and bust.

     

    So that was what was happening. Now, this was far from all business leaders. The large majority of business leaders at that time were quite ethical. They honestly reported their losses. But unfortunately, these huge top companies, WorldCom, Tyco, Enron, they used fraudulent accounting practices to cover up their losses.

     

    Now, these leaders, the leaders of these companies, they must have known that their crimes would be discovered eventually. They must have known that they would receive huge financial penalties and go to jail, as many of them did for their crimes. But they still kept committing their crimes. It seems irrational on the face of it. Why would they do that? Why would they risk their reputations and their lives, you know, the jail sentences to do so? Well the best explanation for this seemly irrational behavior comes from them following their gut. It comes from them choosing the dozen donuts instead of the fruit platter.

     

    It’s not like they.. just to be clear, it’s not like they needed the money. You know, they got one more year of the huge salaries, right? They didn’t need the money, they had plenty of money already, they had plenty of money in their bank accounts. They still do. What happened based on later investigations into it, into the machinations, into their motivations, is that their desperate, increasingly desperate lies and scamming of many, many investors including people, largely people who were working in these companies whose retirement accounts were destroyed, it came from them not wanting to be seen as failures. They didn’t want to be seen as failures in the eyes of fellow peer business leaders. That was the biggest, biggest motivation, not wanting to be seen as failures. Wanting to be seen as winners as opposed to losers. Now, I coach and consult with a lot of business leaders and I have conversations with them and this fear of failure is one of the biggest, biggest drivers of business leaders. One of their biggest things that causes them to function, that causes them to wake up, go to work in the morning. They do not want to be seen as losers, they want to be seen as winners. And money is just a measure of comparing of who is a bigger winner and who is not. They have way more than enough money to live on. Money is just a means of keeping score of who is the winner and who is not. You know, their identity, their ego is very often tied into being seen as a winner and not being seen as a loser, their social status is tied to it. If they were losers, if they became losers as opposed to winners, for many of them, it would be an intolerable blow to their sense of identity, to their self, to their sense of who they are.

     

    Have your ever felt that way? Can you empathize with them? Now, think about it. Regardless of your social station, what would it be like for you if your peers saw you as a loser? Imagine their side-glances when they think you’re not looking. Imagine what they would say about you behind your back. Imagine when they are thinking about you that they’re shaking their head, they’re thinking, “how far that person fell from what a high position”. Can you imagine yourself doing something that you otherwise wouldn’t to prevent that situation? I think some of you can. I think some of you can.

     

    This is a drive to win. It’s one of our primary primal instincts, it stems from the savannah instinct to climb to the top of the social tribal hierarchy because that guaranteed survival and procreation for us. Survival and for our children to survive. So that was really important. It remains one of our most important motivators, most powerful motivators. Far from all of us but for people who tend to become business leaders, it really is. For people who tend to get ahead, this ambition, drive to win, it becomes a very potent motivator. It does a lot of good, when harnessed to good social outcomes, it does a lot of good. I have to say, it does a great deal. I’m ambitious, I want to win, I am sure many of you do as well. But unfortunately, it can also lead to a lot of damage, a lot of evil as it did with Enron and Tyco and Worldcom and, you know, the Ponzi schemes, you know, Bernie Madoff, all of that. It can lead to terrible outcomes with a great deal of suffering.

     

    Now, why do I care about suffering? Well my ethical moral code is utilitarian. So, I care a great deal about doing the most good for the most number, that’s what being utilitarian means, Utilitarianism, that’s what it’s about. So being a utilitarian, I want to prevent suffering, I really, really, really, want to prevent suffering. And I saw that and with my existing knowledge of decision making already from being an early teen and studying this stuff and people were behaving in not very nice ways toward me. I decided to continue my study. I decided to become a coach, consultant, speaker, and trainer for mainly business leaders and their organizations. And this was something I wanted to do because of how much business leaders impacted the people around them. Think about it. They run huge companies, or small companies, or mid-size companies but they still impact a great deal of people. If they make the right decisions, unlike the leaders of Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco, their employees and other people around them, their communities will be in a much better shape and will have much reduced suffering. So that’s why I decided to do what I do to help them fight cognitive biases and make the best decisions. For the sake of, again, of themselves, their organizations and society and community as a whole.

     

    Unfortunately, the biggest disasters happen to people who are often the most successful. And here, I’m coming to something I mentioned in the beginning, why these disasters happen to people who are most successful like the business leaders I work with, I consult with, I coach with, I train. They usually occur for a couple of reasons. One is that these successful people tend to use what has worked for them in the past. I mentioned this as a problem when you are working with a specific market and the market shifts around you. It also happens when your context shifts without you. Without the market shifting but your context shifts. Let’s say you go from one company to another, and you tend to do, you know, you go from being the CEO of one company to the CEO of another or the COO or the CFO of one company to the COO or the CFO of another company and you keep doing what you have been doing because you know that worked. But in the new company it doesn’t work for some reason. And you don’t, intuitively understand that what you are doing is not working because you have a strong sense of confidence that you know what the right thing is to do which is what worked in the past. Or if you get promoted from a lower-level position to a higher-level position. Let’s say you were a lower-level manager and you were promoted to a higher-level managerial position. That’s another context shift, so, many people, you might have heard of the Peter principle where people get promoted to the level of their incompetence. Basically where they are not given sufficient training and they are promoted because of seniority, their ability to do the previous job not their new job. So that’s one problem, they get put in a new context without sufficient training, they don’t succeed.

     

    Another problem of that promotion higher-level is that they get cut off, increasingly get cut off from sources of information on which they could rely and which they could trust. The higher up in the organization you go, the less reliable information becomes. It’s just the case, unless you really fight this hard in your organization, it’s just going to be the case that reports that go up are going to be less reliable — they’re gonna look better than they are. Because people don’t want to share negative information and pass it up the chain, the hierarchy chain because you have the “shoot the messenger effect”, which is one of the cognitive biases also called the “Mum effect” where people who send negative information up the chain of command are punished for it, so the problem happens very often. And this tendency explains why people who are successful at a lower-level fail when they get promoted to a higher-level. Or people are successful in one company fail when they go to another company. And that’s something to really watch out for.

     

    And so, if you learn about these dangerous judgment errors, however successful you are right now, you’re going to be head and shoulders above others who have not learned about these dangerous judgment errors. And especially if you learn about the specific steps you need to address them. Learning about these dangerous judgment errors, to use the previous metaphor is like learning that you should eat healthy things. Well Gee Whiz, right! Who cares that you should eat healthy things? Now, it’s important knowledge to have. It’s important knowledge to have that you should eat healthy things, that you will get fat and you will get obese and you will have various health problems if you eat unhealthy things. But if you don’t have the specific healthy things that you need to eat and what to avoid, then you’re going to be in a lot of trouble. You’re actually not going to be able to accomplish your goal of eating healthy things.

     

    And learning about the specific techniques that I talk about in the Wise Decision Maker Manifesto and many other places in my content to address cognitive biases is what you’ll need to do in order to take the steps to address these dangerous judgement errors.

     

    Now I will also strongly encourage you to spread this information into your workplace. You know, other people you work with might not intuitively appreciate immediately, the information that you share because many of them will trust the advice to go with their gut. They’ve heard it often. You know, it will take a lot of time, a lot of exposure to the information to change their ways, but keep at it. They will really appreciate it and the end and you can forward them the Wise Decision Maker Manifesto and other content that I create to help them understand why it’s important to change their behavior and go with strategies that are not intuitive, that are uncomfortable. Now this is something that my personal code of ethics, utilitarianism tells me to spread, and I hope you will find other people who you care about avoid suffering the consequences of dangerous judgment errors as well and I hope you will spread this information.

     

    Here is the key take away from all of this: the choice that feels most comfortable to your gut is often the worst, worst decision for your bottom line. Far from always, but often. That’s why you should never, never, never simply go with your gut, you should always check with your head. And there are lots of effective strategies that you can adopt. Effective, effective strategies, but they’re counter-intuitive, they’re uncomfortable, but they’re highly profitable. Highly profitable for your bottom line, for your relationships, for your health. That’s what will help you avoid disasters and maximize your success by making the best decisions possible.

     

    Alright, so, I want to again encourage you to check out the Wise Decision Maker Manifesto — it goes into much more depth in a lot of links that you can check it out, it’s linked in the notes to this episode. My goal as always is to provide you with extremely high value in helping you avoid threat and seize opportunities and solve various problems that you might be experiencing to make the best decisions. I hope I’ve been able to do that by talking about the underlying principles of why you should never simply go with your gut and you should always check with your head.

     

    And, I want to ask you, now that you have watched this, what did you think about the dangers of going with your gut? Share about this in the comments section. And if you liked this episode, please click “like” and share it with others who you want to help avoid decision disasters. Make sure to click “subscribe” so you don’t miss any content on these effective, counter-intuitive, uncomfortable but highly profitable strategies to avoid decision disasters. And you can learn much more in my book on this topic. Unsurprisingly it’s titled “Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Business Leaders Avoid Disasters and Make the Best Decisions”. The best free I can offer on this topic, if you are not able to get my book at this time is to sign up for my Wise Decision Maker Course. It’s, again, linked in the show notes.

     

    I hope to see you on the next episode of Wise Decision Maker and wise decisions to you my friends.

     

     — -

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. His expertise and passion is using pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to develop the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (2020). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere.

     

    His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. Its hundreds of clients, mid-size and large companies and nonprofits, span North America, Europe, and Australia, and include Aflac, IBM, Honda, Wells Fargo, and the World Wildlife Fund. His expertise also stems from his research background as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University. He published dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Behavior and Social Issues and Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

     

    He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on November 30, 2019.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154288 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154288 0
    How to Deal With Colleagues in Denial

    When’s the last time you heard a colleague say something so ridiculous that it made your jaw drop? Such denial of reality happens surprising often.

    Perhaps it’s something political — like, George Bush is behind 9/11. Maybe they express science denial, insisting that the Earth is flat. Or is their delusion related to your business, something that makes you realize that they’re seeing the profit and loss statements through rose-colored glasses?

     

    Being in Denial is More Frequent Than You Think

     

    Your colleagues being in denial happens more often than you might think. A four-year study by LeadershipIQ.com, an organization providing online leadership seminars, interviewed 1,087 board members from 286 organizations of all sorts that had forced out their Chief Executive Officers. It found that 23 percent of CEOs were fired for denying reality, meaning refusing to recognize negative facts about his or her organization’s performance.

    Other research strongly suggests that such behaviors, expressed by CEOs, “are felt throughout the organization by impacting the norms that sanction or discourage member behavior and decision making, and the patterns of behavior and interaction among members.” Together, these findings suggest that organizations where CEOs deny negative facts will have a culture of denying reality throughout its hierarchy.

    Of course, people may hold false beliefs in any type of organization. Professionals at all levels suffer from the tendency to deny uncomfortable facts. Scholars term this thinking error the ostrich effect, after the (mythical) notion that ostriches stick their heads into the sand when they encounter threats.

    The ostrich effect is one of over 100 dangerous judgment errors that result from how our brains are wired, what scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics call cognitive biases. We make these mistakes not only in work, but also in other life areas, for example in our shopping choices, as revealed by a series of studies done by a shopping comparison website.

    Fortunately, recent research in these fields shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to address these dangerous judgment errors, whether in your professional life, your relationships, or other life areas. You need to evaluate where cognitive biases are hurting you and others in your team and organization. Then, you can use structured decision-making methods to make “good enough” daily decisions quickly; more thorough ones for moderately important choices; and an in-depth one for truly major decisions.

    Such techniques will also help you implement your decisions well, and formulate truly effective long-term strategic plans. In addition, you can develop mental habits and skills to notice cognitive biases and prevent yourself from slipping into them.

    How do you deal with colleagues suffering from the ostrich effect in particular? I regularly give keynotes and trainings, as well as do consulting and coaching, on dealing with truth denialism — in business, politics, and other life areas. My best-selling book, The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide, provides thorough guidance on how to address truth denialism.

    This piece provides you with a research-based, peer-reviewed process you can take to address business colleagues who deny the facts.

    To Help Colleagues in Denial, Do Not Lead With Facts or Logic

    Our intuition is to confront people with the facts, but research — and common sense, if the individual is, say, your supervisor — suggests that’s usually exactly the wrong thing to do. When we talk to someone who believes something we are confident is false, we need to suspect some emotional block is at play. Unfortunately, despite extensive research about its importance in professional settings, too many organizations still fail to provide training in emotional intelligence, including how to deal with colleagues whose emotions lead them to deny reality.

    A number of factors explain why people may hold false beliefs. For example, research on the confirmation bias shows that we tend to look for and interpret information in ways that conform to our beliefs. So even if sales are far below expectations, CEOs might reject that information while projecting good financial forecasts, if they believe their actions should lead the company to do well. Thus, a CEO might say that the sales will definitely go up in the near future, more than making up for the shortfall.

    Here’s an example from my own experience. I consulted for a company where a manager who made a hire refused to acknowledge the new employee’s bad fit, despite everyone else in the department telling me that the employee was holding back the team. The manager’s behavior likely resulted from what scholars term the sunk cost fallacy — our tendency to double down on our past decisions, even when an objective assessment shows that doing so would waste resources.

    In these types of cases, facing the facts would cause an individual to feel bad about themselves. Unfortunately, we often prefer to stick our heads into the sand than acknowledge fault, because of our reluctance to experience negative emotions. Research on a cognitive bias called the backfire effect shows that when we are presented with facts that cause us to feel bad about our identity, self-worth, worldview, or group belonging, we tend to dig in our heels and refuse to accept them.

    In some cases, presenting the facts to people actually backfires, causing them to develop a stronger attachment to their incorrect beliefs, as scholarship shows. Moreover, we express anger at the person bringing us the message, a phenomenon researchers term shoot the messenger. There are many other mental errors that inhibit professionals from seeing reality clearly and making good decisions.

     

    To Deal With Those in Denial, Use EGRIP (Emotions, Goals, Rapport, Information, Positive Reinforcement)

    To help you deal with colleagues in denial effective, I developed a 5-step technique that can be summarized under the acronym EGRIP (Emotions, Goals, Rapport, Information, Positive Reinforcement).

     

    Step 1: Model Their Emotions

     

    Some might ask: if emotions are the problem, shouldn’t the solution be to suppress them? After all, we’ve all heard that emotions have no place in business.

    Let me be clear that emotions are not the inherent problem. They are fundamentally important to the human experience. We need both reason and emotions to achieve our goals, according to the research.

    Instead, your goal should be to show emotional leadership and try to figure out what are the emotional blocks inhibiting colleagues from seeing reality clearly. Use curiosity and subtle questioning to figure out their values and goals, and how these tie in to their perception of self-identity. During a discussion, focus on deploying the emotional intelligence skill of empathy — understanding other people’s emotions — as a way to determine what emotional blocks might cause them to stick their heads into the sand of reality.

     

    Step 2: Figure Out Their Goals

     

    Next, you’ll want to figure out the goals motivating their emotions. What goals does the false belief inhibit for them? The goals might be personal or professional; the person might or might not realize these goals. You want to continue using curious questioning to understand, at least in broad strokes, their aspirations.

    For example, for the CEO, you might want to inquire gently about their goals for the company and for themselves. You might find out that he wants to be seen as a strong leader.

    With the manager, I asked about her goals for her department’s future. She shared her aspiration for the department to grow and prosper.

     

    Step 3: Put Yourself on the Same Side By Building Rapport

     

    Next, you’ll want to communicate to them that you have shared goals and are on the same side, building rapport. Doing so is crucial, as scholarship shows, for effective knowledge sharing in professional environments.

    Practice mirroring, or rephrasing in your own words the points made by the other person, which helps build trust. Use empathetic listening, a vital skill, to echo their emotions and show you understand how they feel.

    With the CEO discussed above, you might talk about how both of you share a desire for him or her to be a truly strong leader. Try to connect the traits and emotions identified by the CEO to specific examples of their behavior.

    With the manager, I steered the conversation to how she saw her current and potential future employees playing a role in the long-term future of her department. I echoed her anxiety about the company’s performance and concerns about getting funding for future hires, which gave me an additional clue into why she might be protecting the incompetent employee.

     

    Step 4: Lead Them Away From False Beliefs Through Sharing Information

     

    After placing yourself on the same side, building up rapport, and establishing an emotional connection, move to the problem at hand — their emotional block. The key is to show them, without arousing a defensive or aggressive response, how their truth denialism will lead to them undermining their own long-term goals, a research-driven approach to addressing thinking errors.

    In the case of the CEO, you might discuss how research shows that strong leaders welcome learning negative information and updating their beliefs toward reality, so that they can fix the problem effectively; in turn, failing to identify negative facts is a sign of a weak leader. Encourage him to consider what aspects of the company’s performance might be problematic, and how they might be addressed. Offer to collaborate on addressing problems. Emphasize how only weak leaders turn away from reality, if the CEO proves stubborn; the key to their emotional block could be a self-identity as an effective leader. Share about how top CEOs, such as Alan Mullaly at Ford, succeeded due to multiple course corrections. Your goal is to help the individual incorporate a new character trait into their perception of what makes a good leader.

    I asked the manager I spoke with to identify which of her employees contributed most to her goals for the department’s long-term performance, which the least, and why. I also had her consider who contributed the most to the team spirit and unit cohesion, and who dragged down morale and performance.

    As part of the conversation, I brought up research on why we sometimes make mistakes in evaluating colleagues and how to avoid them. She acknowledged the employee in question as being a poor performer and a drag on the group. Together, we collaborated on a plan of proactive development for the employee; if he did not meet agreed-upon benchmarks, he would be let go.

     

    Step 5: Help Them Associate Good Feelings With Changing Their Minds Via Positive Reinforcement

     

    Conclude your conversations with positive reinforcement for colleagues accepting the facts, an effective research-based tactic. The more positive emotions the person associates with the ability to accept negative facts as an invaluable skill, the less likely anyone will need to have the same conversation with them in the future.

    Conclusion

     

    Our typical methods of dealing with the frequent occurrence of a colleague in denial are wrong. Don’t lead with facts, reason, and logic. Focus on their emotions above all, as it’s their emotional block that inhibits them from acknowledging reality. Use the 5-step research-based strategy called EGRIP to 1) discover their emotions; 2) then their goals; 3) build up rapport; 4) provide information to change their mind; 5) finally, offer positive reinforcement for them updating their beliefs to match reality. It’s not as easy as trying to argue, but it’s much, much more likely both to change their mind and to preserve and even strengthen your relationships. To remind yourself to use this technique, you can use this decision aid .

    Key Takeaway

     

    To get colleagues in denial to believe the truth, use EGRIP: 1) discover their emotions; 2) then their goals; 3) build up rapport; 4) provide info to change their mind; 5) offer positive reinforcement for them updating their beliefs. ---> Click to Tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

     

    • What kind of issues have you seen cause colleagues to be in denial?
    • What are some situations in the past when EGRIP might have been useful for you?
    • Where do you plan to use EGRIP in your professional life? What about your personal life?
    • What next steps will you take to use EGRIP?

     

    Image Credit: Max Pixel/Canon EOS 400d Digital

     

     — 

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. His expertise and passion is using pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to develop the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (2020). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere.

    His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. Its hundreds of clients, mid-size and large companies and nonprofits, span North America, Europe, and Australia, and include Aflac, IBM, Honda, Wells Fargo, and the World Wildlife Fund. His expertise also stems from his research background as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University. He published dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Behavior and Social Issues and Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

    He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on November 21, 2019.

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154289 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154289 0
    10 Steps for Strategic Planning to Defend Your Future

    Did you know that the typical five-year strategic planning forecasts perform about as well as dart-throwing chimpanzees? Cognitive science and behavioral economics scholars have conducted research on people who are the most skilled forecasters among us. Apparently, they perform no better than chance on economic predictions more than three to five years out. Given that gloomy information, you might be asking why I wrote an article about strategic planning at all.

    You’re in the same boat with my consulting client Beth, the CEO of a mid-size medical management company, when I told her about this same research finding in our conversation about strategic planning in the spring of 2019. Based on her personal experience, she resonated with the accuracy of this statement.

    Beth told me that about seven years before she and I had that conversation, her company went through a five-year strategic planning process. Well, the plan didn’t go according to plan. The roiling controversy surrounding Obamacare after Donald Trump’s election and Republicans’ taking both houses of Congress caused a great deal of uncertainty and resulting problems for her company.

    Other predicted trends happened faster than expected. One problem was lower occupancy in her company’s nursing homes due to shifts to using alternative nursing care services such as home health care and retirement communities. Another problem stemmed from a decrease in the more lucrative Medicare Part A patients.

    The assumptions built into her strategic plan, and the resulting projects and financial commitments, failed to pan out. The strategic plan, she felt, cost her some serious money. She invested into more facilities and staff than was needed, so that the company’s supply of medical services outpaced demand from customers.

    She had to cut costs to compete. Beth even ended up canceling some planned projects and lost the initial investments. She also had to lay off long-time staff to maintain the company’s financial viability.

    Not a pretty picture; no wonder she wasn’t optimistic about strategic planning. Wouldn’t you be if you had her experience?

    The Problems With Beth’s Strategic Planning

     

    After taking a look at her previous strategic planning process, it became clear that it suffered from a number of dangerous judgment errors that result from the biological structure of our brain, what scholars term cognitive biases. While we as human beings suffer from over 100 such mental blindspots, not all are relevant for business and leadership. You’ll find the 30 cognitive biases that cause the biggest problems in these areas, and discover where and how these judgment errors are plaguing your organization, in the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace.

    We know from studies that cognitive biases pose a high threat to strategic planning. Beth’s plan, in particular, suffered from the planning fallacy, our tendency to assume that everything will go according to plan. That dangerous judgment error leads to our failure to build in enough resources and flexibility for various contingencies. Indeed, Beth’s company didn’t account nearly enough potential for problems with Obamacare and other issues.

    Her plan also exhibited the mental blind spot known as the optimism bias. It’s like it sounds: the optimism bias causes us to perceive a more bright and hopeful vision of the future than is the case in reality. We then underestimate threats and risks, such as the risk of one political party taking both the presidency and both houses of Congress. Beth’s plan mistakenly anticipated that due to the overwhelming commitment among Democrats to Obamacare, there would be no effective challenge to it from Republicans.

    Finally, the plan proved highly vulnerable to sunken costs. This cognitive bias makes us reluctant to terminate projects after we already sunk some money into them. Due to the strategic plan’s structure, Beth’s company continued to throw good money after bad long after many red flags suggested it might be time to sink the projects. As a result, Beth suffered substantially more losses than needed, making the required financial corrections significantly more painful than needed.

    As I went through each of these problems, Beth found herself both nodding her head and clenching her fists. How she wished she knew about these problems when she worked with the consulting company that helped her leadership team create that plan, she told me. She wouldn’t have fallen for those traps!

     

    Gut-Based Strategic Planning

     

    Beth’s experience is pretty common, due to the widespread failure to address cognitive biases in business strategic planning and decision making. Instead, business advice encourages leaders to trust their gut when planning and deciding.

    “Go with your gut” may be both the most repeated business advice and the most wrong-headed one. Our gut reactions have evolved for the ancestral tribal environment, not the modern business one. Many of the cognitive biases that cause us to make decision disasters in today’s workplace worked perfectly well for our ancestors.

    For instance, it was highly beneficial for our ancestors to eat as much sugar as possible, such as when they found an abandoned beehive. Those who ate the most sugar survived and passed on their genes; unfortunately, this instinct today harms us greatly, as the obesity epidemic in the US makes clear. We have inherited the sugar-eating instinct and other unhealthy behaviors in our decision making, and tend to rely on these gut reactions without realizing that they don’t serve us well in modernity.

    Tragically, even business strategic assessments meant to address the weaknesses of human thinking through structures and planning are deeply flawed if they don’t specifically account for cognitive biases. Take the most popular of them, SWOT, where you try to figure out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats facing your business.

    SWOT assessments usually fail to account for our mental blind spots. It’s particularly problematic that SWOT is almost always performed in a group setting, and cognitive biases are often exponentially increased in group settings. One particularly large problem is known as groupthink, where groups tend to coalesce around the opinions of a powerful leader.

    SWOT and similar strategic assessments give a false sense of comfort and security to business leaders who use them. These comforting techniques result in appalling oversights that ruin profitable businesses.

    By now, you — like Beth — might feel pretty down on strategic planning. She certainly did, when we discussed these typical problems with strategic planning and strategic assessments.

     

    Defend Your Future Through Effective Strategic Planning

     

    Fortunately, there’s a much more effective way to approach strategic planning and assessment.

    Rather than making a simple strategic plan, you focus on assessing potential threats and opportunities and building them into your plan. You emphasize making your plan flexible and resilient, able to handle unanticipated developments that you didn’t consider when you made the original plan. You also work to counteract the typical cognitive biases that cause your plans to go astray.

    An easy way to do so involves using a technique I developed called “Defend Your Future.” This technique allows you to get the benefits of strategic planning — confidence, clarity, certainty — without the failures, risks, and problems accompanying typical strategic planning and assessments.

    It’s informed by extensive cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics research on defeating cognitive biases and making the most profitable decisions. I refined it in over two decades of consulting and coaching for leaders at mid-size and large companies and nonprofits. By using this method, you can tap into both my business expertise and my knowledge of groundbreaking scholarship, without straining your budget to hire me.

    The benefits from this technique don’t come from a perfect forecast of the future; beyond a couple of years, such forecasting is like relying on a dart-throwing chimpanzee, as I mentioned earlier. They stem instead from knowing you’ve done your best to make yourself and your organization as safe, secure, and stable as you reasonably could with the information and resources you have available. No one could ask for more.

    Beth perked up as we talked about the “Defend Your Future” technique. She definitely wanted to protect her organization from threats and position it to seize opportunities in a flexible and resilient manner. As we talked further and I shared the details of this approach, she grew more and more excited, realizing it would have addressed the vast majority of the problems with her old strategic plan.

    She still had some skepticism about strategic planning due to her bad experience in the past; as the saying goes, “once bitten, twice shy.” Nonetheless, she had confidence in my ability due to a successful culture shift I oversaw to improve collaboration between doctors and nurses in a hospital her company managed.

    While I provide guidance to my coaching and consulting clients when I support them in doing this technique, you may not have anyone on hand with the expertise needed to help you through this technique. If you don’t, I recommend you learn about research-based techniques to perceive clearly cognitive biases and to understand the principles behind them. Then, you’ll need to assess the ones most strongly impacting your workplace, and learn methods to defeat these mental blindspots most powerfully impacting your career and business, as well as your relationships, professional and personal alike.

    Likewise, you will gain from integrating structured decision-making techniques into your toolkit, whether for quick everyday decisions, for moderately important choices that substantially impact your bottom line, and for decisions that are either critically important or highly complex or both. You’ll also need to know how to avoid failure and maximize success in implementing decisions and managing projects and processes. Finally, apart from structured techniques, you’ll find invaluable gaining habits and skills of mind to notice when cognitive biases are about to ruin your day and prevent this outcome.

    Given that the “Defend Your Future” technique is meant to shape your overarching strategy, you’ll find yourself using these more targeted techniques and mental skills for components of the strategic plan you’ll eventually develop. “Defend Your Future” is a good fit either for a team or an individual. You can use it to develop a strategy for your personal career, your business or other organization, your department in a larger organization, your physical and/or mental health, your civic engagement, your relationships, and other areas of personal and professional growth

    10 Steps to Truly Effective Strategic Planning

     

    Step 1: Scope and Strategic Goals

     

    Decide on the scope and the strategic goals of the activity that you will evaluate, as well as the timeline, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Remember that your forecasting will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans, so add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer projected timeline. For the same reason, make your strategic goals less specific and concrete if you have a longer time horizon.

    Step 2: Gather

     

    Gather the people relevant to the activity that is being evaluated in the room, or, if there are too many to have in a group, representatives of the stakeholders (a good number is six, and not more than ten people to ensure a manageable discussion). Make sure the people in the room have the most expertise in the activity being evaluated, rather than simply gathering the higher-ups. The goal is to give input on various attributes of a vision of the future and then address any potential problems and opportunities uncovered.

    At the same time, have some people with the power to make and commit to the decisions that will be reached during the exercise. Consider recruiting an independent facilitator who is not part of the team to help guide the exercise.

    If you are making the decision by yourself as a business professional (for example, a solopreneur deciding on your marketing strategy for the next year), write out a list of various stakeholders who are relevant to the project. This may reflect competing goals within your own project if you are a sole decision-maker.

    Step 3: Explain

     

    Explain the exercise to everyone by describing all the steps, so that all participants are on the same page about the process.

    Step 4: Your Anticipated Future

     

    Consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate and how many resources it would require.

    As I discussed this step with Beth, she recognized that her leadership team and the other consulting firm seven years ago only went up to this step, skipping the rest of the critical steps.

    Step 5: Potential Internal Problems

     

    Now, consider what the future would look like if there were unanticipated problems internal to the business activity that seriously undermined the expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of possible problems might arise, including low-probability ones. Also lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to address these problems in alternative visions of the future.

    Evaluate the likelihood of each problem in percentage terms and multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible in order to have a single unit of measurement.

    Next, consider what you can do to address the internal problems in advance, and write out how much you anticipate these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed due to the various possible internal problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

    If you are planning this out as a group, first have everyone suggest problems ANONYMOUSLY, then discuss each scenario as a group, come up with resource amounts ANONYMOUSLY, and finally average out the differences between amounts.

    Beth asked me about the anonymity; I explained that the purpose stemmed both from the goals of addressing groupthink, and also of permitting people to share potentially unpopular and even politically dangerous points of view. She recalled how she heard some rumors in her company’s grapevine that some people weren’t thrilled about the optimism of the strategic plan; she dismissed the rumors because no one brought up these points publicly. With this in mind, she conceded the usefulness of anonymity.

    Step 6: Potential External Problems

     

    Complete the previous step for potential problems external to the business activity.

    Beth really wished that the strategic plan seven years ago had this section, as it would have greatly increased the likelihood of a more realistic assessment.

    Step 7: Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

     

    Go on to consider what your anticipated plan would look like if unexpected opportunities opened up; most will be external, but consider internal ones as well. Next, consider the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of this opportunity. Try to convert the resources into money if possible, for the benefit of a single unit of measurement.

    Consider what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you anticipate these steps might cost. In the end, add up all the extra resources that may be needed due to unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to budgeting to take advantage of these potential opportunities.

    If you are planning this out as a group, first have everyone suggest opportunities ANONYMOUSLY, discuss each scenario as a group, come up with resource amounts ANONYMOUSLY, then average out the differences.

    Beth really wished her team had considered this in the original plan. Due to some of the same pressures faced by her company, the nation’s second-largest nursing home chain went bankrupt in 2018, resulting in sales of many facilities and other valuable assets, along with great opportunities to hire top-notch staff. If Beth’s company had reserved some resources instead of investing them into trying to build new facilities of its own — a number of which had to be canceled — they could have gotten valuable properties and human resources at fire-sale prices.

    Step 8: Check for Cognitive Biases

     

    Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors. I recommend you check for all of the 30 most dangerous mental blindspots in professional settings found in the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace. If you don’t have the opportunity to do so, make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

    If you are planning this out as a team, discuss the cognitive biases, then come up with resource amount adjustments ANONYMOUSLY, then average out the differences.

    Step 9: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

     

    To account for unknown unknowns — also called black swans — add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

    Initially surprised by the 40 percent figure, Beth realized the value of this step when we discussed the collapse of the 2008 housing bubble and the Great Recession, and prior to that, the dotcom boom and bust. Given the political turbulence surrounding healthcare, reserving 40 percent made sense to her.

    Step 10: Communicate and Take Next Steps

     

    Communicate effectively to organizational stakeholders about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps that were decided on during this exercise to address unanticipated problems and take advantage of opportunities by improving your plans and reserving resources.

    Conclusion

     

    By the end of our discussion, Beth determined that she and her leadership team needed to do this exercise for the next three years; she didn’t want to do a longer plan, due to the political instability associated with healthcare at the time we had the discussion in the spring of 2019. She was very happy with the outcome after it was completed during a weekend strategic retreat in early summer 2019. She felt confident it would be critical to addressing the threats and seizing the opportunities for her company, along with boosting resilience and flexibility.

    You should use the “Defend Your Future” technique for any medium or long-term planning you do for your organization or your career. To help you remember the technique, you can use this decision aid.

    Key Takeaway

     

    Effective strategic planning involves: 1) Identifying potential threats and opportunities; 2) Planning how to deal with them; 3) Reserving sufficient resources to address threats and opportunities; 4) Making your plans resilient and flexible. -> Click to Tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

     

    • What problems did you experience in the past with strategic planning that the “Defend Your Future” technique might address? How might it address them?
    • In what areas might the “Defend Your Future” technique most benefit your organization? What about your career?
    • What next steps can you take to bring it most effectively to your team and integrate it into your organization’s processes? What about into your personal career plans?

     

    Image Credit: Max Pixel/Nikon D7100

     

     — -

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. His expertise and passion is using pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to develop the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (2020). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere.

    His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. Its hundreds of clients, mid-size and large companies and nonprofits, span North America, Europe, and Australia, and include Aflac, IBM, Honda, Wells Fargo, and the World Wildlife Fund. His expertise also stems from his research background as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University. He published dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Behavior and Social Issues and Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

    He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on August 7, 2019.

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154304 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154304 0
    Wise Decision Maker Movement Manifesto

    You Shouldn’t Trust Your Gut as a Decision Maker: Here’s Why

     

    The biggest falsehood in business leadership and career advice may also be the most repeated: “go with your gut.” Surely you heard this advice often, as well as some variations of that phrase, such as “trust your instincts,” “be authentic,” “listen to your heart,” or “follow your intuition” as a decision maker.

    If you enjoy video, here’s a videocast based on this blog:

     

    And if you like audio, here’s a podcast based on the blog:

     

    Or simply read onward!

    I’m deeply frustrated, saddened, and angered when I see highly profitable companies, top-notch careers, and great business relationships devastated because someone bought into the toxic advice of going with their gut. When someone returns home from some guru’s fire-walking seminar and starts to behave like their “authentic self” they are simply shooting themselves — and their business — in the foot.

    Our authentic selves are adapted for the ancient savanna, not the modern business world. Following our intuitions can lead to terrible decisions in today’s professional environment. For the sake of our bottom lines, we need to avoid following our primitive instincts and instead be civilized about how we address the inherently flawed nature of our minds.

    Think about these questions:

    • What percent of projects in your company suffer from cost overruns?
    • When was the last time a leader in your company resisted needed changes?
    • How often are people in your team overconfident about the quality of their decisions?
    • What proportion of plans in your workplace overemphasizes smaller short-term gains over larger long-term ones?
    • How frequently do your people express reluctance to have difficult conversations over potentially serious issues?

    All of these and many other problems come from following our gut reactions.

    Any of these mistakes, if repeated frequently enough, can and do result in disasters for successful companies and bring down high-flying careers, especially when facing smart competitors who educate themselves on how to avoid such problems. By contrast, if you’re the one to learn about and defend yourself from these errors, you can take advantage of rivals who go with their guts and make devastating mistakes, enabling you to gain a serious competitive edge.

    Business Strategic Assessments Are Deeply Flawed

     

    Tragically, current business strategic assessments meant to address the weaknesses of human nature through structures and planning are themselves deeply flawed. Take the most popular of them, SWOT, where a group of business leaders tries to figure out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats facing their business. SWOT assessments usually fail to account for the dangerous judgment errors we make due to how our brains are wired.

    It’s particularly problematic that SWOT is almost always performed in a group setting, and mental blindspots are often exponentially increased in group settings. One particularly large problem is known as groupthink, where groups tend to coalesce around the opinions of a powerful leader.

    SWOT and similar strategic assessments give a false sense of comfort and security to business leaders who use them. These comforting techniques result in appalling oversights that ruin profitable businesses.

    Sports is Ahead of Business

     

    Surprisingly, sports such as baseball have pulled ahead of the vast majority of business in recognizing the value of avoiding gut reactions, as popularized by the 2011 film Moneyball. The movie shows the 2002 season of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, which had a very limited budget for players that year. Its general manager, Billy Beane, adopted a very unorthodox approach. He relied on quantitative data and statistics to choose players, rather than the traditional method of trusting the intuitions of the team’s scouts.

    In other words, he used his head rather than his gut. He hired a series of players undervalued by all other teams that were using old-school evaluation methods. As a result, the Oakland Athletics won a record-breaking 20 games in a row.

    Other teams have since adopted the same approach. Statistics are increasingly dominant over gut reactions in decision-making on players, as well as what plays to make. Reliance on quantitative data has been growing in popularity in baseball and other sports as well. For example, punting in football is increasingly going out of style because of evidence-based approaches showing that statistically speaking, punting is a bad idea, despite gut reactions suggesting that punting works well.

    How much would you give to introduce a similarly revolutionary innovation in your business that rewards you with record-breaking growth 20 quarters in a row? You’ll score a home run by avoiding trusting your gut and going with your head instead.

    Why Do You Always Hear “Follow Your Gut”?

     

    If our intuitions are such a bad match for the modern world, why is the advice to “go with your gut” so widespread? Because trusting our instincts feels naturally comfortable to us. We tend to choose what’s comfortable rather than what’s true or good for us, even in the face of very strong evidence suggesting otherwise.

    Sadly, gurus who tell people what they want to hear and what makes them comfortable get paid the big bucks, while experts who speak uncomfortable truths usually get ignored. What would you intuitively rather hear: someone describing delicious, delightful, delectable dozen donuts or someone sharing about how to maintain your physical fitness?

    Can’t you just imagine those dozen donuts: chocolate glazed, Boston Creme, strawberry jelly, custard, chocolate sprinkles, lemon creme? Yum! I’m making myself hungry. Better get some donuts.

    Ok, I’m done. Back to the manifesto.

    “Go with your gut” is the equivalent of the dozen donuts dessert of business advice.

    Sure, the box of dozen donuts contain more calories than we should eat in a whole day. However, our gut wants the donuts instead of the healthy but less intuitively appealing fruit platter of not going with our intuitions. The choice that is most appealing to your gut is often the worst decision for your bottom line, just like the donuts are much more intuitively desirable than a fruit tray, but are the worst choice for your waistline.

    Too often, we choose an attractive dessert (or a business option) that we later regret (myself included).

    In the ancient savanna, it was critical for us to eat as much sugar as possible to survive. Our gut reactions still pull us to do so, despite the harm caused by eating too many donuts in our modern environment.

    Simply knowing about it is unfortunately insufficient protection. I’ll honestly admit that, although I’ve definitely gotten much better at making wiser decisions — in my eating, business, and other life areas — using science-based decision-making strategies, cheesecake is still my Achilles heel.

    At its core, making a business decision based on gut reactions comes from the same impulse as eating donuts instead of fruit. Unfortunately, bad business decisions might have much more devastating consequences than eating a donut.

    Fortunately, we have extensive research-based public messages about the need to restrain our instincts around eating for the sake of our personal health. Yet we have only recently begun discovering and popularizing research on managing our intuitions around business decision-making to ensure the health of our businesses and our careers.

    But I Make Good Gut Decisions!

     

    At this point you might be telling yourself that you’ve had a lot of success following your gut in making good decisions. Unfortunately, the term “gut reaction” is used very broadly in business contexts to refer to all sorts of internal impulses. This excessively fuzzy concept spans both very useful and trustworthy habits you’ve developed for making quality decisions on the job, as well as those dangerous intuitions and instincts from our ancestral savanna heritage.

    For example, you might have learned the counterintuitive behaviors of delegating tasks effectively and avoiding micromanaging as a leader. Perhaps you can glance quickly at a department’s profit and loss statement and recognize what needs to be addressed. Maybe you can hear a sales pitch and immediately evaluate whether it’s a good fit for your needs.

    Your decisions in these areas might be quick, intuitive, and very accurate. You may feel like you’re going with your gut. However, all of these correct choices come from acquired skills. You had to learn to do the right thing rather than simply trust your instincts, just like you learned to drive a car. You can now do so automatically, making good decisions on the road.

    You wouldn’t let someone drive without taking a course and passing a license exam, would you? Yet business leaders don’t go through a decision-making course to get a “decision-making license” before gaining positions of authority as decision makers. They simply observe other leaders making decisions and learn on the job, following both good and bad examples and relying on their instincts.

    Sadly, our minds can’t tell the difference between our natural, primitive, and often dangerous instincts and our learned, civilized, and effective decision-making impulses. It can feel just as intuitive and comfortable to grab another donut as to decide which sales pitch to consider and which to ignore.

    That’s why business leaders should never simply trust their instincts and intuitions and go with their gut. Instead, you should evaluate whether this internal impulse comes from a place of extensive experience where you learned to make decisions that turned out to be correct the large majority of the time; if so, trust that instinct. If it comes from elsewhere — such as “this just doesn’t feel right” or “this just feels right” — the gut reaction might be one of the many dangerous judgment errors we all make as human beings. Verify with your head whether this gut reaction points to an actual business threat or opportunity, instead of simply going with your heart and following your instincts on a business decision.

    Even in cases where you think you can rely on your intuition, it’s best to use your instincts as just a warning sign of potential danger and evaluate the situation analytically. For example, the person with whom you have a long business relationship might have just gotten some bad news about their family, and their demeanor caused your instincts to misread the situation.

    What about market changes? One of the biggest problems that brings down successful companies and careers is failing to notice important shifts in market conditions. In those cases, your extensive experience in the market is actually really, really bad. You’ll find yourself applying old, trusted intuitions in a different environment, like a fish out of water. It will cause you to miss crucial new threats and profitable opportunities and may bring you ruin as more nimble competitors — either other companies or younger professionals — adapt to the changes much quicker.

    How We Really Think (and Feel)

     

    Researchers have discovered that we have, roughly speaking, two systems that determine our mental processes. It’s not the old Freudian model of the id, the ego, and the superego, which studies show to be outdated. These two systems have various names: System 1 and 2, fast thinking and slow thinking, the low road and the high road. For my money, “autopilot system” and “intentional system” describe them most clearly.

    The autopilot system corresponds to our emotions and intuitions. This system evolved to help us survive in the ancestral savanna environment and mostly relies on the amygdala, the older part of the brain. It guides our daily habits, helps us make snap decisions, and reacts instantly to dangerous life-and-death situations.

    The snap judgments resulting from intuitions and emotions usually feel “true” and “right” precisely because they are fast and powerful. We feel very comfortable when we go with them. Decisions arising from our gut reactions are indeed often right in those situations that resemble the ancient savanna.

    Unfortunately, in too many cases they’re wrong. Our modern environment — in business and other life areas — have many elements that are unlike the savanna. With growing technological disruption, ranging from teleconferences to social media, the office of the future will look even less like our ancestral environment. The autopilot system will therefore increasingly lead us to make disastrous decisions, in systematic and predictable ways.

    The intentional system, by contrast, reflects rational and analytical thinking. It centers around the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that evolved more recently. This thinking system helps us handle more complex mental activities, such as managing individual and group relationships, logical reasoning, abstract thinking, evaluating probabilities, and learning new information, skills, and habits.

    While the automatic system requires no conscious effort to function, using the intentional system requires a deliberate effort to and is mentally tiring. Fortunately, with enough motivation and appropriate training, you can learn to turn on the intentional system in situations where the autopilot system is prone to make systematic and predictable errors.

    Here’s a quick visual comparison of the two systems:

    We tend to think of ourselves as rational thinkers, usually using the intentional system. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

    The autopilot system is by far the more powerful of the two systems, determining 80–90 percent of what we do, think, feel, and decide.

    Our emotions often overwhelm our reason. Moreover, our intuition and habits dominate the majority of our lives. We’re usually in autopilot mode.

    That’s not a bad thing at all, as it would be mentally exhausting to think through our every action and decision. However, it’s bad when this system makes the same errors, again and again.

    Fortunately, you can use your intentional system to interrupt these errors. You can change your automatic thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns to avoid mental blindspots.

    It’s crucial to recognize that these two systems of thinking are counterintuitive. They don’t align with our conscious self-perception.

    Your mind feels like a cohesive whole. Unfortunately, this self-perception is simply a comfortable myth that helps you make it through the day. There is no actual “there” there; your sense of self is a construct that results from multiple complex mental processes within the autopilot and intentional system.

    When I first found that out, it blew my mind (every part of it). It takes a bit of time to incorporate this realization into your mental model of yourself and others, in other words how you perceive your mind to work. Bottom-line is that you’re not who you think you are.

    The Art and Science of Avoiding Dangerous Judgment Errors

     

    Studies from behavioral economics, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and related fields reveal the many types of dangerous judgment errors — what scholars term cognitive biases — that we make in business and other areas.

    Many of these systematic and predictable judgment errors come from our evolutionary heritage. They helped us survive in the savanna environment, such as overreacting to the presence of a perceived threat. It proved more helpful for our survival to jump at 100 shadows than fail to jump at one saber-toothed tiger.

    We are the descendants of those people evolutionarily selected for jumping at shadows. Of course, most cognitive biases do not serve us well in our modern environment, just like many mental habits we learned as children don’t serve us well as adults. Yet, we still retain many of these comforting habits, even if they harm us now.

    Other reasons for cognitive biases result from inherent limitations in our mental processing capacities, such as our difficulty keeping track of many varied data points. This challenge results in formulas usually outperforming experts in typical situations, such as evaluating the credit worthiness of loan applicants. The best systems combine formulas for typical situations with expert analysis of outliers.

    Most cognitive biases result from mistakes made by going with our gut reactions, meaning autopilot system errors. More rarely, cognitive biases are associated with intentional system errors.

    Do you know someone who believes they don’t make errors? That belief is in itself one of the most dangerous cognitive biases, called the bias blind spot, which tends to impact successful people the most. As the Bible says in Proverbs 16:18, “pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

    Most importantly, the last few years have witnessed cutting-edge findings in debiasing — the practice of reducing or eliminating cognitive biases — that provide us with many new techniques to address dangerous judgment errors in our professional lives.

    However, popularizing this research is very difficult, at least in business contexts.

    Unscrupulous actors in the food industry are trying to feed us as many empty calories as they can for the sake of profit despite the tragic consequences to our health, and oppose health research showing the dangers of eating such unhealthy food. Similarly, some very powerful business gurus have built their careers out of claims that we should follow our gut regardless of the catastrophic consequences to our profits. Fearing for their own livelihoods, they rail against any hint of hard-nosed research-based business advice about distrusting our intuitions.

    I hope you’d fire your personal trainer if they told you to eat a box of donuts instead of fruit. Sadly, no business consultant, coach, speaker, author, or other expert is currently afraid of being fired for telling you to follow your gut.

    Research shows that in 46 percent of the 423 US companies with assets of over $500 million that filed for bankruptcy between 1981 and 2007, the causes of the bankruptcy could have been completely avoided if the leaders had made wiser judgments (read: where the leaders did not follow their guts). In many of the remaining 53 percent, better decisions would have substantially reduced the problems and likely prevented bankruptcy.

    That applies even more so to small and mid-size businesses, which have fewer resources and thus less room for errors and whose leadership teams have less experience. Indeed, about half of all new businesses close their doors in five years. Such closures stem largely from judgment errors by their founders. Isn’t it terrible that poor strategic leadership decision-making is responsible for so many business disasters, yet neither these leaders nor their followers received professional development in making decisions, despite the abundance of evidence that it’s easy to improve one’s judgment skills?

    That’s why I wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters. The book provides extensive evidence for all the points I made above, combining cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics with pragmatic business case studies drawn from my experience of over 20 years consulting, coaching, speaking, and training leaders on avoiding disasters and maximizing success by making the best decisions. I researched this topic for over 15 years in academia, including as a professor in Ohio State University’s Decision Sciences Collaborative, and before that as a Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Eventually, I shifted away from academia to devote my full-time efforts to empowering business leaders to avoid disasters as a best-selling author and CEO of the boutique consulting, coaching, and training firm Disaster Avoidance Experts.

    Besides my concern with the disastrous impact of cognitive biases in business, I also seek to help people address cognitive biases in other aspects of their lives. Thus, I wrote The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide, on defeating dangerous judgment errors in all life areas. In addition, I authored The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships, specifically focusing on addressing these mental blindspots in professional and personal relationships.

    Why I Care

     

    My deep passion about this topic, as well as a streak of determination (some might say stubbornness) makes me willing to be a maverick and take on entrenched interests in pushing for a counterintuitive, research-based, data-driven paradigm shift to improve business health. This passion is personal.

    As a kid, my dad told me with utmost conviction and absolutely no reservation to “go with your gut.” I ended up making some really bad decisions in my professional activities, for instance wasting several years of my life pursuing a medical career. I also watched him make some terrible choices that gravely harmed my family as he followed his gut, such as hiding some of his salary from my mom for several years. After she discovered this and several other financial secrets he kept, her trust in him was broken, which was one of the major factors leading to their later prolonged separation; fortunately, they eventually reconciled, but the lack of trust can never be fully repaired.

    My conviction that the omnipresent advice to “follow your gut” was hollow grew only stronger as I came of age during the dotcom boom and bust and the fraudulent accounting scandals around the turn of the millennium. Seeing prominent business leaders blow through hundreds of millions in online-based businesses without effective revenue streams — Webvan, Boo.com, Pets.com — was sobering, especially as I saw the hype that convinced investors to follow their intuitions and put all that money into dotcoms.

    Likewise, it seemed almost unreal to learn at around the same time of how the top executives of Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom used illegal accounting practices to scam investors after their companies lost a lot of money as part of the dotcom bust. Most business leaders behaved ethically and admitted their losses honestly, but these leaders chose the path of lies.

    They surely knew that their crimes would inevitably be discovered eventually, leading to ruined reputations and long jail sentences. The best explanation for their seemingly irrational behavior comes from their willingness to follow their gut, to forgo rational thinking for short-term but ultimately hollow rewards — the box of donuts.

    It’s not like they needed the money, they had plenty already. They used money mainly to keep score and improve their social status. Their increasingly-desperate lies and corrupt financial machinations stemmed from their fear of being seen as failures in the eyes of their peers.

    From my intimate conversations with business leaders who I coached and for whom I consulted, I know that this fear is one of their most powerful drivers. Many of them have their identity and sense of social status deeply invested into being winners in the world of business. Being seen as losers — even if they retained a very comfortable sum of money in their bank account — would be an intolerable blow to their sense of self.

    Have you ever felt that way? Can you empathize with them? What would it be like for you if your peers saw you as a loser?

    Imagine their side glances when they think you’re not looking, what they would say about you behind your back, how they are shaking their head when they think about how great you used to be and how far you fell. Can you imagine yourself doing something you wouldn’t otherwise do to prevent that situation?

    This drive to win stems from the ancestral savanna instinct to climb to the top of the tribal social hierarchy and remains one of our most potent motivators. It does much good when harnessed to positive social outcomes, but has the potential to cause a great deal of damage, as with the case of the accounting scandals and consequent bankruptcies.

    It was really depressing for me to read the accounts of employees, stockholders, and communities devastated by these events. I was particularly upset by cases such as Enron, where the corporate leaders encouraged their employees to buy stocks while themselves selling shares as the company danced on the brink of disaster.

    As someone with an ethical code of utilitarianism — desiring the most good for the greatest number — I felt a calling to reduce suffering and improve well-being through helping leaders avoid dangerous judgment errors. I recognized that by reaching leaders, I bring a great deal of value through the impact these leaders make on others. That’s why I decided to dedicate my life to empowering leaders to fight mental blindspots and make the best decisions possible, for the sake of themselves, their organizations, and our society as a whole.

    How to Prevent Business Disasters in the Workplace

     

    So how do you defeat these dangerous judgment errors?

    First, you need to evaluate where and how they may be harming you, your team, and your organization. By seeing the pain they are causing you, and getting others to see this pain, you will both know what specific problem areas to focus on and how many resources to invest into fighting cognitive biases.

    The next easy step is to adapt structured decision-making processes for making quick day-to-day choices, for moderately important ones, and for major and/or complex decisions. You’ll also benefit greatly from using a structured process to avoid failure and maximize success when you implement significant decisions. Another technique you’ll need is an effective method of planning your strategy for the next several months or years that doesn’t suffer from the typical problems of SWOT and other strategic assessment and planning tools. It’s very simple to make a decision — by yourself, together with your team, or on an organizational level — to integrate these methods into all of your decisions.

    These structured decision-making and decision-implementing methods are critical to protecting you and your team from decision disasters when you have time to use them and recognize their necessity. However, you — and they — also need to develop mastery in the 12 mental skills of defeating cognitive biases. These abilities will enable you to:

    • Predict when you or someone else might fall for cognitive biases and prevent that problem from happening
    • Recognize immediately when dangerous judgment errors are undermining the situation at hand, even if you didn’t predict it beforehand
    • Take effective steps in the moment, even when you don’t have time to use even the most brief structured decision-making process, to protect yourself or others from these biases
    • Teach others how to protect themselves from mental blindspots

    By combining the assessment, the structured decision-making and implementation, and the 12 mental skills, you’ll optimize your ability to win over dangerous judgment errors in business. For over twenty years, my consulting and coaching clients — from Fortune 500 companies to midsize businesses and nonprofits — benefited greatly from these and other strategies described in this book. Now, you can do so as well, and join the wise decision maker movement.

    Conclusion: Join the Wise Decision Maker Movement

     

    Many high-flying professionals — including top business leaders — flinch away from learning about dangerous judgment errors because doing so can be hard and unpleasant. It’s counterintuitive and takes them outside the comfort zone of going with their gut. It goes against the typical structures and incentives in teams and organizations that usually favor trusting intuition and being authentic.

    Moreover, many — not all — of the most successful leaders and professionals believe themselves to be perfect decision makers. After all, they’ve succeeded so far!

    Unfortunately, the greatest disasters happen to those who have previously been most successful. Such tragedies usually occur because these successful people continue to use what worked for them in the past in new contexts where previous methods no longer apply.

    Another common problem for them involves getting cut off from previous trusted sources of key information as they advance in their careers, resulting in more and more distortions that result in worse and worse judgments. This tendency helps explain the many examples of highly competent and successful business leaders who steered their companies and careers into destruction.

    If you learn about these judgment errors, and especially take the necessary steps to address them, you’re in a vastly privileged position compared to these business leaders and any other professionals not aware of the dangers of typical judgment errors in the workplace. If you and your organization can avoid even a fraction of the dangerous judgment errors which cause us decision disasters because we’re adapted for the ancient savanna and not the modern businesses environment, you’ve set yourself on the path to success.

    You’ll greatly reduce suffering not only for yourself, but also those around you if you choose to share these strategies with those professional colleagues you care about. So please spread this paradigm shift to your team and professional contact network, at least those you don’t want to see suffer from business disasters.

    My personal code of ethics — minimizing suffering and improving well-being — impels me to spread this message as widely as possible. I invite you to join me in doing so, in a movement of fellow decision makers who aspire to make the wisest possible decisions and help others who matter to them do so as well. That’s what the wise decision maker movement is all about.

    You’ll find that some of those you try to help are resistant at first, due to the unfortunate advice of prominent business gurus who encourage their followers to trust their guts. Keep at it, demonstrating why savanna-adapted intuitions are a horrible guide for the modern business environment. You can be confident they will thank you for your persistence eventually.

    Let me be clear: like a broken clock that’s right twice a day, gut reactions will sometimes be right. However, you should never go with your gut, due to the overwhelming number of scenarios where it misfires in the current business environment.

    If you feel uncomfortable with a situation, don’t just rely on your instincts and go with your autopilot system. Instead, turn on the intentional system to analyze what’s going on. Evaluate whether any cognitive biases might be impacting you and use one or more science-based strategies that have proven effective to address judgment errors.

    It’s easy to read this article and the linked pieces. The harder task is the challenging reflection required to protect yourself and your business from judgment errors. Even more difficult: integrating what you’ve learned into your day-to-day work, where the rubber meets the road, and empowering others to do so as part of the wise decision maker movement.

    So what kind of story do you want to tell about yourself three months from now? Do you want to be the person that reads a paradigm-shifting manifesto and linked articles, but regrets that work got away from you and you let these strategies slip away, with you and those you care about suffering the disasters that followed? Alternatively, do you want to tell the story that you read these paradigm-shifting pieces, did all the hard work needed to adapt the critically important new information into your professional toolbox, and invested the effort to integrate these strategies into your work to take your and your team’s performance to the next level and leave the competition in the dust?

    Which of these stories reflects the kind of leader you want to be and the future in which you want to live? The choice is yours.

    If you’re the second type of leader, I can promise you’ll see three major benefits.

    • First, you’ll stand head and shoulders above the competition by defending yourself from numerous potential threats and being optimally prepared to take advantage of unexpected opportunities, thus maximizing your bottom line.
    • Second, you can feel safe and confident, sleeping soundly at night knowing that by avoiding dangerous decisions you will automatically exceed expectations for your clients, colleagues, vendors, investors, and any other internal and external stakeholders.
    • Third, you’ll have much less frustration, stress, and anxiety in your day-to-day work because of your ability to have outstanding business relationships inside and outside your organization.

    Those you care about, to whom you spread this information as part of the wise decision maker movement, will get similar benefits.

    If you remember only one thing from reading this piece, please recall that the option that feels most comfortable to your gut is often the worst decision for your bottom line.

    In our technologically disrupted environment, the future is never going to be like today. We have to adapt constantly to an increasingly-changing environment to ensure the success of our business and our careers. That ever-intensifying pace of change means our gut reactions will be less and less applicable in the future. Relying on our autopilot system will lead us to crash and burn.

    The ones who survive and flourish in the world of tomorrow will recognize this paradigm shift. They will adopt counterintuitive, uncomfortable, and highly profitable techniques to avoid business disasters and make the best decisions by relying on their intentional system to address the systematic and predictable errors we all tend to make. It is my fervent hope that you join us, minimizing suffering and maximizing wellbeing for you, your team, and everyone with whom you share about this paradigm shift as part of the broader wise decision maker movement.

    I wish you the wisest decisions, my friends!

    Key Takeaway

     

    The choice that feels most comfortable to your gut is often the worst decision for your bottom line. To be a truly wise decision maker, you have to adopt counterintuitive, uncomfortable, but highly profitable techniques to avoid business disasters by making the best decisions. ---> Click to Tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

     

    • Where has going with your gut caused you or others in your professional network or organization problems in the past?
    • What obstacles do you foresee with adopting the counterintuitive, uncomfortable, and highly profitable approach of making the best decisions by not going with your gut?
    • What are the next steps you can take to integrate this information into your own work, into your team, and into your organization?

     

    Image Credit: Disaster Avoidance Experts and Public Domain Pictures/Petr Kratochvil

     

     — -

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. His expertise and passion is using pragmatic business experience and cutting-edge behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to develop the most effective and profitable decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (2020). Dr. Tsipursky’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere.

    His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. Its hundreds of clients, mid-size and large companies and nonprofits, span North America, Europe, and Australia, and include Aflac, IBM, Honda, Wells Fargo, and the World Wildlife Fund. His expertise also stems from his research background as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist with over 15 years in academia, including 7 years as a professor at the Ohio State University. He published dozens of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Behavior and Social Issues and Journal of Social and Political Psychology.

    He lives in Columbus, OH, and to avoid disaster in his personal life makes sure to spend ample time with his wife. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook, YouTube, RSS, and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, by signing up for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on July 26, 2019.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154305 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154305 0
    This Valentine’s Day, Men and Women Should Make Different Buying Decisions

    Women and men around the country will be choosing a gift for their sweetheart for this Valentine’s Day. Yet their shopping decisions will be driven by gendered decision-making imperatives that powerfully influence their buying choices. They will both make bad decisions unless they take proactive steps to address problematic gender-based decision-making styles.  

    How We Make Our Buying Decisions.

    Neither men nor women will realize how their own gender drives their shopping decisions. We tend to think that we’re rational decision makers and are always capable of making the wisest choice. However, research shows that decisions stem primarily from our feelings: our gut reactions and intuitions.

    After deciding with our emotions, we then backtrack and rationalize our decisions. We justify the decision to ourselves after the fact. Even worse, our gut reactions are not adapted for the modern world, but for the savanna environment. Scholars use the term “cognitive biases” for the faulty wiring in our minds that causes us to make poor decisions. Research has found more than 100 cognitive biases that cause us to make poor decisions. These mental blindspots will cause both men and women to make bad decisions in their Valentine’s Day shopping, but in different ways.

     

    Sexed Buying Decisions

    You probably won’t find it surprising that research shows men are more risk blind than women. It’s also intriguing that according to research, moderate stressors cause men to become worse at assessing risks. However, the same levels of stress have been found to boost women’s abilities to assess risk and rewards. Similar findings have  been found to be relevant to anxiety, where a moderate level of anxiety caused men, but not women, to take bad risks. That’s why many whose significant other identifies as a man might find themselves unpleasantly surprised on Valentine’s day.

    Gut reactions help explain why females take fewer risks compared to males: women expect less enjoyment and have a greater expectation of an unfavorable outcome. So if your significant other identifies as a woman, don’t be surprised if you get a safer, more conservative gift.

    In a different but related aspect of decision making, studies have shown that, on average, men feel less concerned about ethical behavior compared to women. For example, a woman is less likely to regard behavior in grey areas of information privacy as ethical than a man would. Women have  stronger intentions to act ethically than men. A woman is more likely to act more ethically than a man in relationships, which is part of a broader tendency of women to care more about relationships than men. That’s part of why women are more likely to remember about Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays than men.

    These different approaches explain why male shoppers have a tendency to look for a product that is “good enough.” By contrast, women would rather look for the perfect product, making that extra effort to ensure they are getting the best. So women’s Valentine’s Day gifts will tend to be more thoughtful and appropriate than men’s gifts.

    It's intriguing that research has shown similar patterns of shopping behavior in other cultures. Keeping the said similarities in mind, we can be confident that our genes, rather than our cultural upbringing, are in large part responsible for gender differences in shopping styles.

     

    Optimizing Buying Decisions for Men and Women

    Due to particular decision-making styles, both men and women can make poor shopping decisions. For example, men take too many risks and purchase the first thing they perceive as good enough, even if it does not turn out to be so. Women make bad shopping decisions as well, as they take too long hunting for bargains, wasting their time.

    Fortunately we can use research-based strategies to notice cognitive biases and overcome these mental blindspots.

     

    This Valentine’s Day, it would be beneficial to women to act a bit more like men when shopping, by taking less time even when they feel driven to go the extra mile and looking for a “good enough” present instead of the perfect one. And live a little by taking a risk with a risque gift.

    Men would make wiser decisions if they worked more to emulate women, by going beyong what their gut reactions tell them. Try harder to look for a better gift rather than settling on the first thing you find that seems like it won’t result in you sleeping on the couch. Tone down the risque nature of your impulses and make it less surprising than you feel you should.

    Research has been done about resisting gender preferences when shopping. People who have a more egalitarian gender attitude can behave like the other gender while making shopping decisions.

    The important thing is to know when you’re probably going to make a bad decision. Train yourself to notice when your gut reactions are about to push you into making those poor decisions. Then, go against your intuition so that you can adapt the pattern of the other gender, to avoid cognitive biases common to yours. Train yourself so that you can recognize when you’re about to make a bad shopping decision, then shop smarter despite what your gut is telling you, to make the best decisions this Valentine’s Day.

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    When it comes to shopping, men tend to take more risks, while women prefer to take their time to get the best possible deal. Both genders are prone to mistakes. However, you can train your mind to make the wisest shopping decisions this Valentine’s Day. --> Click to tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your thoughts in the comments section)  

    • When was the last time you made a bad shopping decision?
    • Is there anything in the article that will help you make better shopping choices?
    • Which next steps will you take based on reading this article?

    Image credit: Pixabay/StockSnap

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (Intentional Insights, 2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020). He has over 550 articles and 450 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, and over 15 years in academia as a behavioural economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky.  and LinkedIn. Most importantly, help yourself avoid disasters and maximize success, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts on February 13, 2020.

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154310 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154310 0
    Why You Should Hire Women Over Men, According to Science

    Care about your bottom line? Then you should preferably hire women rather than men.

     

    This is true regardless of whether you factor in diversity considerations. Separately from the beneficial financial, social, and cultural impact of having a diverse workforce, hiring women over men makes dollars and sense. 

     

    You might be surprised to hear someone who is a man say that. Well, don’t be. I always go with research-based findings from cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics, even if the conclusions of these studies go against my own identity. 

     

    And the research is clear. There’s no doubt that women - just because of their sex - are held back from career advancement compared to men. 

     

    For instance, a study that examined managers working in 20 Fortune 500 companies found that men experienced faster career progress and received better salaries than women. That’s despite women doing all the right things needed for advancement: having an education similar to men, working in the same industries, not moving in and out of the workforce, and so on. 

     

    Another study evaluated 69 female and 69 male executives in similar positions in their career.In comparison to men, women reported having to work harder to overcome a variety of barriers, such as being excluded from informal networks and getting less mentoring than men.

     

    A third study looked at over 1000 MBA graduates from the same university to evaluate their career progress and salaries. Women reported experiencing discrimination much more frequently than men, and in fact, when controlling for work experience, women earned less than men.

     

    I can go on, but you get the point. The glass ceiling is real: women face gender-based discrimination that prevents them from advancing as quickly as men, despite similar career experience, skills, and education.

     

    When I give keynotes or trainings, I usually share such findings. What usually happens then is that male audience members frequently respond by coming up with explanations that do not involve any possibility of discrimination. As an example, they speak about women taking time off to take care of their families. I respond by noting that studies I cite that control for work experience – meaning time worked and the kind of positions held – still find that women earn less than men and make slower career progress. 

     

    After highlighting this discrimination, I go into a broader discussion of implicit bias. That term refers to the unconscious - and unwarranted - associations and assumptions we make due to our gut reactions, intuitions, and instincts around people we perceive to belong or not belong to our group. 

     

    Some of these are unduly positive. They result in a dangerous judgment error called the halo effect, where if we like one characteristic of an individual, usually because it’s something we share with that person, we make a too-positive evaluation of other aspects of that individual.

     

    Other assumptions are excessively negative. They result in a mental blindspot called the horns effect. It’s the opposite of the halo effect: if we don’t like one aspect of another person, our intuition is to downgrade all of their other characteristics. 

     

    The halo effect and horns effect are two out of over a hundred systematic patterns of mistakes that we make due to how our brains are wired. Researchers in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics call them cognitive biases. Fortunately, recent research in these fields shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to address these dangerous judgment errors, in your professional life, your relationships, or other life areas.

     

    The first step to addressing these errors is to evaluate their consequences. Regarding gender differences in the workplace, it’s clear that men unconsciously prefer to mentor, network with, promote, and pay more to other males. 

     

    To be fair, it’s important to acknowledge that women also do the same with other women. However, given that men dominate the positions of power in almost all organizations, the result of this natural and intuitive tendency in our society is for men to get ahead at the expense of equally or even better-qualified women. 

     

    In my speeches, I always highlight that there’s no shame or blame in falling into these dangerous judgment errors if we’re unaware of them. After all, we’re only being human. This no-shame, no-blame approach decreases the intuitive defensiveness on the part of males and helps them hear the essence of the message.

     

    So what should you do if you’re in a position to influence hiring and promotion? Recognize that, objectively speaking, women at the same career position, work experience, and salary levels as men needed to work harder to get to where they are to overcome the gender discrimination stemming from the halo and horns effects. Thus, female candidates are likely to be substantially better workers than they appear on paper, in comparison to their male counterparts. And especially if you’re a man, you need to give women more credit than you feel they’re due to overcome horns effect, while decreasing your evaluation of males due to halo effect. 

     

    Consequently – and without any reference to diversity and inclusion initiatives, simply for the sake of your bottom line – you should always give preference to women. 

     

    Seem counterintuitive? Perhaps a little unfair, especially if you’re a male? Well, I’m a man, and I can tell you that I would prefer to hire women over men, and recommend other males do the same. You’re simply doing what’s in the best interests of the organization. In fact, if you work in a publicly-traded company, you are obliged to serve the best interests of the shareholders. That means you need to go out of your way to promote, hire, mentor and include in networks those people who are most likely to serve the best interests of your company. Those people are women, this stands apart from any diversity issues. Doing so will create the biggest profit. 

     

    Research supports this conclusion. A study of companies using the 1996 to 1997 National Organizations Survey found that greater gender diversity is associated with more customers, greater sales revenue, and higher profits. Another study showed that having women occupy at least 30 percent of a company’s Board of Directors positions correlates with increased profit. Gender-balanced business teams had better sales and profits, compared to the typical male-dominated teams, in a third study.

     

    So the smart money is on hiring women over men, at least for those who care about making a profit. 

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    If you care about your bottom line, hire women over men. Due to gender discrimination, women had to work harder to get the same career position as men, and you will on average get a better worker if you hire a woman. ---> Click to tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

     

    • What has your experience been with observing gender discrimination?
    • How does your workplace treat the hiring of men and women?
    • What will you do differently in your hiring practices as a result of this article?

     

    Image credit: Pxhere.com/Tejipta

     

    Originally published by Disaster Avoidance Experts.

    ---

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (Intentional Insights, 2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020). He has over 550 articles and 450 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, and over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154317 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154317 0
    The One Huge Mistake Everybody Makes in COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Preparation

    According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 coronavirus will definitely develop into a widespread pandemic: it’s more a question of when, not if, it will happen. With growing outbreaks of diagnosed cases in 12 states, and vastly larger numbers of undiagnosed cases, there’s serious cause for concern.

     

    If you enjoy video, here’s a videocast based on this blog:

     

    And if you like audio, here’s a podcast based on the blog:

     

     

    Or simply read onward!

     

    Current COVID-19 Pandemic Preparation Guidance

     

    With this in mind, mainstream media and official health organizations such as the CDC have published tons of articles on how to prepare for the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

     

    The advice for individuals seems reasonable and makes common sense: 

    • Double-down on washing your hands
    • Prepare for being out of commission for a couple of weeks if you get sick
    • Stock up on daily consumables, such as food, medications, and cleaning supplies, for a couple of weeks in case you get sick
    • Have contingencies in place in case you get sick
    • Prepare for possibly working from home and/or that schools might temporarily close
    • Coordinate with your neighbors to help each other
    • Get ready for the psychological impact of the situation

    So does the advice for companies:

    • Cross-train employees in case some get sick
    • Prepare for event cancellations
    • Encourage sick employees to stay home
    • Perform additional cleaning
    • Make a disease outbreak response plan in case there’s an outbreak in your area

    Overall, the essential take-away from all of these is epitomized by the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said that you “don't need to do anything different today than you did yesterday,” except emergency preparation. In other words, all of these preparations are for disruptions that might last for a couple of weeks at most resulting from a local outbreak.

     

    COVID-19: The Facts and Possibilities

     

    While it seems reasonable and fits our intuitions, is it really good advice? Let’s consider the facts about COVID-19.

     

  • COVID-19 is highly contagious, with each infected person on average infecting 3-5 others, and the infection doubling every 4-6 days.
  • It survives on most surfaces for up to 9 days.
  • It’s much more deadly than the flu, especially for older people. Those older than 50 have a fatality rate of over 6%.
  • We won’t have a vaccine until late 2021 if things go perfectly, and more realistically not until 2023-24. Then, it will take a couple of years to produce enough vaccine, even with ramped-up production dedicated only to this area. If we’re moderately unlucky, the COVID-19 vaccine will be only as effective as the flu vaccine, reducing the chance of illness by 50%.
  • If we’re lucky, once you have COVID-19, you won’t get it again. If we’re moderately lucky, once you get it, the immunity will last for a year or two. If we have bad luck, the immunity for COVID-19 will only last a few weeks.
  • If we’re amazingly lucky, the virus will burn out by the end of the year. If we’re pretty lucky, COVID-19 will be a seasonal affliction and come back like the flu every year, yet the World Health Organization calls such an optimistic scenario a “false hope.” The most likely scenario is that it will just keep going, unaffected by seasons.  
  • With that in mind, let’s reassess the COVID-19 preparation guidance, for individuals and companies alike. 

     

    The current guidance for both assumes a highly optimistic scenario, where we get very lucky. It assumes you might at worst face a one-time, short-term disruption of a couple of weeks due to an outbreak in your area. 

     

    So, do you feel lucky? Well, do ya?

     

    Let’s be real: regardless of whether or not you feel lucky, you shouldn’t anticipate such an optimistic scenario. Instead of half-assing it, you need to prepare for a moderately unlucky scenario and be a realistic pessimist.

     

    Why Our Brain Causes Us to Be Underprepared for Major Disruptions

     

    Before exploring what that means, it’s important to understand why doing so doesn’t feel intuitive and why the advice you keep hearing on how to prepare for COVID-19 is so badly mistaken. 

     

    We suffer from many dangerous judgment errors that researchers in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics like myself call cognitive biases. These mental blindspots result from a combination of our evolutionary background and specific structural features in how our brains are wired

     

    Our primary threat response, which stems from the ancient savanna environment, is the fight-or-flight response, also known as the saber-tooth tiger response. A great fit for the kind of short-term intense risks we faced as hunter-gatherers, the fight-or-flight response results in terrible decisions in the modern environment. It’s particularly bad for defending us from major disruptions caused by the slow-moving train wrecks we face in the modern environment, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

     

    More specifically, you need to watch out for three cognitive biases. 

     

    The normalcy bias causes our brains to assume things will keep going as they have been - normally - and evaluate the near-term future based on our short-term past experience. As a result, we underestimate drastically both the likelihood of a serious disruption occurring and the impact of one if it does occur.

     

    When we make plans, we naturally believe that the future will go according to plan. That wrong-headed mental blindspot, the planning fallacy, results in us not preparing for contingencies and problems, both predictable ones and unknown unknowns. 

     

    Last but not least, we suffer from the tendency to prioritize the short term, and undercount the importance of medium and long-term outcomes. Known as hyperbolic discounting, this cognitive bias is especially bad for evaluating the potential long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

     

    Realistic Pessimistic Pandemic Preparation

     

    It’s inherently uncomfortable to prepare for the realistic pessimistic scenario. That feeling of discomfort is you going against your gut reactions, which is what research shows is needed for you to defeat these mental blindspots, whether in your business and career, in your relationships, or in other life areas

     

    What does it mean to prepare for being moderately unlucky? Envision a future where COVID-19 isn’t eradicated, but keeps on going. 

     

    Let’s say it becomes like the flu, a seasonal affliction that comes every September and lasts through March. In about 5 years, we’ll develop and make widely available a weak vaccine, one that decreases the likelihood of infection by 50% and lasts for a few months. 

     

    How should you prepare in that case?

     

    Individuals need to make long-term changes to their plans:

    • Instead of a couple of weeks, you should have sufficient supplies of consumables, medications, and disinfectants for a couple of months, in case of ongoing outbreaks and lack of supplies in your area. If you get sick, you don’t want to go to the store, and neither do you want to go there in the midst of a major local outbreak.

       

    • You might also keep in mind preparing extra supplies for your more happy-go-lucky neighbors and friends who follow the misguided advice of the CDC.

       

    • If you plan to get groceries and other consumables delivered during an outbreak, get extra disinfectant to clean the outside of the box. The virus can survive on surfaces for a few days, and those working in delivery may come into work when sick.

       

    • If you are elderly yourself, you need to make especially extreme changes to address the possibility of an outbreak in your area, since the threat is so high for the elderly. Can you secure a residence away from a densely-populated area in case your locality suffers an outbreak, or guarantee isolation in your home away from the outside world?

       

    • If you have elderly relatives, now is the time to change your plans for supporting them. Set up major contingencies to prepare for an outbreak in their area.

       

    • If you’re not currently in a job that allows work from home, or one that demands intense social contact, start investing in a career transition to one that permits social distancing.

       

    • Prepare for much less in-person social contact with friends, family, and especially acquaintances in the months and years to come, and start now to switching more of your physical interactions to virtual ones.

       

    • Similarly, prepare for the cancellations of major social events, ranging from sports to cultural events, and for the widespread closing of bars and restaurants.

       

    • Start developing hobbies that don’t rely on other people being in close proximity.

       

    • Start now to shift your entertainment consumption from activities that require social contact to those that don’t require it.

       

    • Be ready to deal with other people panicking and making poor decisions, and take whatever steps you need to address such problems.

       

    • Assume at least some others will not follow quarantine guidelines and behave accordingly.

       

    • Prepare psychologically not simply for short-term disruptions, but for major social changes in the upcoming months and years. The list I outlined above is quite challenging and first and foremost, requires major mental shifts.

       

    Companies also need to make major changes to the way they do business - not emergency plans, but fundamental underlying transformations:

    • The most important changes will be in human-to-human contact. Does your business model rely on it? Explore creative ways of changing your business model to be more virtual in serving your customers, and where virtual interactions aren’t possible, create as much social distancing as you can.

       

    • Can your employees work from home? Forward-looking companies are already encouraging their workers to do so as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. You should, too. That includes financing a wide variety of secure work-from-home services for your employees.

       

    • So much business relies on relationships and networking. How can you switch your relationship cultivation and management to virtual venues? Perhaps you can focus more on LinkedIn and other means of networking and relationship maintenance, and less on face-to-face networking events.

       

    • Can you shift your team meetings and even bigger corporate events to virtual forums? Instead of in-person conferences, consider doing virtual ones. Sure, you don’t get the intra-company networking benefits that you would get through face-to-face contact, and you’ll need to figure out ways to replace that bonding and relationship-building.

       

    • Prepare for major disruptions to your supply chains, and especially to your service providers. Professional services, which depend a great deal on in-person contact, will be severely disrupted, and you need to be ready for it.

       

    • Anticipate a variety of travel disruptions and event cancellations.

       

    • Society will undergo a wide variety of social norm changes. Evaluate the extent to which your business model and staff will be impacted by such changes.

       

    • Help your employees prepare much better at home than the current guidelines from the CDC and other health organizations suggest.

       

    • Be ready for unknown unknowns, also known as black swans, by reserving extra capital and other resources for unanticipated threats and disruptions associated with COVID-19.

       

    • By taking all of these steps early, you will have a major competitive advantage. Be ready to use the consequences of this competitive advantage to seize market share from your competitors who are inadequately prepared for these transitions.

       

    • Some will be hobbled, while others go bankrupt. Be ready to hire highly-qualified employees who will be let go by those companies that trust too much the highly optimistic official preparedness guidelines. Anticipate buying the material resources of companies that are undergoing a fire sale.

       

    Conclusion

     

    Of course, you’ll want to adapt these broad guidelines to your own needs. Right now, you need to sit down and revise your strategic plans in a way that accounts for the cognitive biases associated with COVID-19. Do the same revision with major project plans

     

    That’s the advice I’m giving to all of my consulting and coaching clients, and I hope you also choose to follow this guidance. By taking these steps, you’ll protect yourself, your loved ones, your career, and your business from the way-too-optimistic preparedness guidelines of our official health organizations and from our deeply inadequate gut reactions in the face of such slow-moving train wrecks. 

     

     

    Key Takeaway  

    Official guidelines for COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic preparation assume a wildly optimistic scenario due to dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases. You need to instead prepare for a realistic pessimistic scenario. → Click to tweet

    Questions to Consider

    • How can you prepare yourself as an individual for the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic?
    • How can you prepare your business for the pandemic?
    • What steps will you take based on this article?

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

     

     

     

    Originally Published  at Disaster Avoidance Experts on March 7, 2020.

     

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (Intentional Insights, 2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020). He has over 550 articles and 450 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, and over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

     

     

     

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154322 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154322 0
    8 Powerful Questions You Need to Ask Before Stakeholder Engagement

     

    Stakeholder engagement is one of the more critical aspects of leadership. Stakeholders can be anyone from your front line employees to suppliers to business partners, and your organization’s relationship with them is dynamic and can change over time.  

    There are many advantages to identifying and getting to know your stakeholders, and even more disadvantages to not engaging with them. A failure to understand their needs can lead to blindspots for managers and executives, which can have disastrous effects, such as low employee morale or a dismal bottom line.  

    On the other hand, effective engagement can result in increased productivity and stronger financials. We can also use research-based strategies to notice such blindspots so we can overcome them.  

    Identifying Your Key Influencers

    While you might be inclined to start engaging with all the stakeholders in your organization immediately, it would be more practical to focus on the relationships that matter the most. This means sitting down with your team, coming up with a list of all stakeholders, and then whittling down this list to the people who have the most impact to your organization — these are your key influencers. Even though it might be tempting to address the concerns of all your stakeholders, limited time and resources mean that you will accomplish more by addressing a targeted list.  

    When determining who your key influencers are, look for these three attributes:

     

    1. The stakeholder has a significant impact on your company’s growth. This means that the long-term success of your company hinges in large part to a continued relationship with this individual or group.  

    2. The stakeholder cannot easily be replaced: from a top-performing department or a time-tested supplier, you can identify who this stakeholder is by assessing past performance.  

    3. The relationship is mutual: you can clearly identify what you need from the stakeholder and vice versa. Your organization’s goals and desired results are aligned with those of this individual/organization.  

    Just recently, I sat down with Bill, my coaching client and healthcare entrepreneur leader. He and his senior management team had been trying to get support from patient’s groups to encourage the widespread adoption of their innovative medical equipment.

    However, it had been a year since they launched this initiative and they had not gained sufficient traction. Bill suspected that it might be due to the higher cost of their medical equipment. His first instinct was to do one-on-one outreach to key influencers in patient’s groups to explain that while his organization’s products had a higher price tag, it used a more advanced technology that yielded better results. It also came with a more comprehensive and longer warranty period compared with competing products.

    Bill approached me after preparing a list of more than 40 key influencers. He was having a difficult time making a strategy on how to address them and was feeling pressured because he needed to present his findings and results in an upcoming meeting with investors.

    When I checked Bill’s list, I noticed that he had included a wide variety of influencers, including many who did not have a key decision-making role in shaping the advocacy efforts of patient’s groups. We pared his list to just 8 key leaders of patient’s groups, and because they had many similar concerns and priorities, Bill was much better able to come up with a plan to engage with them.

     

    Be Prepared by Doing a Pre-Engagement Assessment Using These 8 Questions

     

    Regardless of the urgency, do a pre-engagement check before you engage with your key influencers directly. This will prepare you for the meetings and lead to productive discourse.

    Otherwise, you might fall into the dangerous judgment error known as the false consensus effect, where you assume other people are more similar to you and more inclined to do what you want them to do than is really the case. The false consensus effect is just one out of over 100 mental blindspots that scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics call cognitive biases.

    The questions below are informed by cutting-edge neuroscience research on how to address these cognitive biases, along with my own experience of over two decades coaching and training leaders on stakeholder engagement.

    1. What are their feelings, values, goals, and incentives around this issue? Bill’s key influencers — the 8 leaders of patient’s groups — were willing to try a better product. However, they were wary of endorsing more expensive equipment without being able to justify the higher price point to their respective patient’s groups.  

    2. What is their story around this issue? The key influencers wanted to find the best equipment to endorse to their patient’s groups but were cautious due to several substandard products they have tried in the past.  

    3. What are their identity and sense of self as tied to the issue? The leaders of the patient’s groups take their responsibilities very seriously by keeping up to date with the latest research and equipment available.  

    4. How are they the hero in their own story? Bill’s key influencers know that they are in the frontlines when it comes to pushing for a better quality of life for the patients. Most of them have been directly or indirectly affected by the medical condition the equipment seeks to address and want to be part of the solution.  

    5. Why should they want to listen to your message and do what you want? The leaders of the patient’s groups will benefit from hearing Bill’s take on the product’s efficiency. As the head of his organization, his message comes with a high degree of credibility, and the key influencers can share his message with confidence.  

    6. What obstacles would prevent them from listening to your message and doing what you want? If Bill confirms that the medical equipment’s higher cost is, indeed, the main point of contention, he needs to address this issue. Otherwise, the key influencers will not listen to anything else he has to say.  

    7. How can you remove the obstacles to and increase the rewards for them listening to you and doing what you want? Bill decided that he will immediately address the price issue in his meeting with the key influencers. His plan was to discuss in detail how his organization’s innovative medical equipment was the best choice in terms of quality and warranty.  

    8. Who do you know that can give you useful feedback on your answers to the previous pre-engagement assessment questions? I connected Bill with Jolinda, the leader of a well-organized patient’s group for over a decade. Although her group represented the interests of patients with a different medical condition not relevant to the equipment made by Bill, she was willing to share her perspective as a key influencer.

     

    Conclusion

     

    Your organization’s relationship with your stakeholders will change over time and you will face different issues at varying difficulty levels. However, by learning how to identify your key influencers and doing pre-assessment checks before engaging with them, you will be able to have productive discussions and grow deeper relationships.

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    Asking the 8 Powerful Questions during a pre-engagement stakeholder assessment will lead to better engagement and stronger relationships with your stakeholders. → Click to tweet

     

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your answers below)

     

    • When was the last time you had difficulty engaging with your stakeholders?
    • Is there anything in the article that will help you identify your key influencers?
    • Which next steps will you take based on reading this article?

     

    Image credit: Pixabay  

    Originally published at Disaster Avoidance Experts

     — -

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (Intentional Insights, 2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020). He has over 550 articles and 450 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, and over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154324 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154324 0
    Saving Your Relationships From the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

    Your relationships will be undermined or even destroyed by the coronavirus, unless you take proactive steps right now to save them. 

     

    Don’t believe me? Consider the facts.

     

    The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has led to extensive measures for social distancing, figuratively and literally. We’re asked to keep at 6 to 10 feet apart from other people, and not have any gatherings over 50 people. Schools, colleges, day cares, restaurants, bars, and other public gathering venues are shut down until further notice across the US. Entertainment venues, such as stadiums, theaters, and museums, closed their doors. More and more companies ask all employees who can work from home to do so. Those over 60 or whose health is compromised are asked to stay home unless absolutely necessary, and you shouldn’t visit them if you don’t want to kill grandma.

     

    Think it’s going to blow over in a couple of weeks? Think again.

     

    The pandemic is only gaining steam instead of stopping and will very likely be around for years, not weeks. All of these changes are not emergency measures. They’re the new normal.

     

    What will that do to your relationships? 

    • How will you maintain your romantic life at 6 to 10 feet apart, with no restaurants, cafes, or bars as a place to hang out and no entertainment venues to attend?
    • How about the same question for friendships?
    • How will you support older adults you care about in this epidemic? 
    • What will you do about your friends and family who are waving off concerns about the coronavirus, and will end up in a tight spot in a few weeks or months when things get really bad
    • When working from home, what’s your plan for maintaining your professional collaborations and work relationships without seeing your co-workers face-to-face and working out challenges over the watercooler or in a staff meeting? 
    • What are you going to do with kids and young adults who are home instead of in school or college? 
    • Given that the whole family is at home, how will you avoid the little daily annoyances that can tear families apart?
    • How will you make sure that you cope with the strain of the situation and avoid letting the natural feelings of fear, frustration, sadness, anxiety, and anger lead you to lash out at those closest to you? 

    That list may feel overwhelming, and you may feel anxious over not having answers to any of these questions. Yet before rushing into figuring out your answers, take a breather. Reflect on why you didn’t realize that you should think about these questions in the first place.

     

    It’s because we all suffer from mental blindspots that scholars in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics like myself call cognitive biases. They result from a combination of our evolutionary background and specific structural features in how our brains are wired.

     

    Our primary threat response, which stems from the ancient savanna environment, is the fight-or-flight response, also known as the saber-tooth tiger response. A great fit for the kind of short-term intense risks we faced as hunter-gatherers, the fight-or-flight response results in terrible decisions in the modern environment. It’s particularly bad for defending our relationships from major disruptions caused by the slow-moving train wrecks we face in the modern environment, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

     

    More specifically, you need to watch out for three cognitive biases.

     

    The normalcy bias causes our brains to assume things will keep going as they have been – normally – and evaluate the near-term future based on our short-term past experience. As a result, we underestimate drastically both the likelihood of a serious disruption occurring and the impact of one if it does occur for our relationships and other life areas.

     

    When we make plans, we naturally believe that the future will go according to plan. That wrong-headed mental blindspot, the planning fallacy, results in us not preparing for contingencies and problems, both predictable ones and unknown unknowns.

     

    Last but not least, we suffer from the tendency to prioritize the short term, and undercount the importance of medium and long-term outcomes. Known as hyperbolic discounting, this cognitive bias is especially bad for evaluating the potential long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

     

    To protect yourself and those you care about from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, you need to learn about these cognitive biases, and the effective tools informed by cognitive-behavioral therapy to defeat such mental blindspots. Only by doing so will you be able to answer the questions above effectively. That’s how you’ll not only save your relationships in these turbulent times, but also forge even stronger, healthier, and more meaningful relationships!

     

    Image Credit: Flickr/Rawpixel

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    Your relationships will be undermined or even destroyed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, unless you take proactive steps right now to save them by treating our current conditions as the new normal. --> Click to tweet.

    Questions to Consider (please share your answers below)

     

    • What are some of the areas where you anticipate having relationship strains?

    • How might the questions posed in the article help you save your relationships?

    • Which next steps will you take based on reading this article? 

     

    Image credit: Pixabay

     

    Originally Published at Disaster Avoidance Experts

    ---

     

    Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide (Intentional Insights, 2017), and The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020). He has over 550 articles and 450 interviews in Fast Company, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Inc. Magazine, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, and over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154328 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154328 0
    3 Key Empathy-Based Methods to Uncover the Truth About Your Stakeholders

     

    Using empathy to establish a good relationship with your organization’s stakeholders can pave the way to increased productivity and a stronger bottom line. By identifying your organization’s key influencers, you will be able to address a group of stakeholders whose decisions will have the most impact on your organization. 

     

    Learning the truth about your key influencers is critical to strengthening your relationships with them. One important thing that leaders need to keep in mind prior to engaging with their key influencers is that each relationship is dynamic and every meeting will have its share of high and low points. The key is to navigate through these points and have a productive discourse that will enable all parties to resolve issues and reach common ground.

     

    Unfortunately, our instincts on such conversations often lead us astray due to dangerous judgment errors that result from how our brains are wired, what scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics call cognitive biases. Fortunately, recent research in these fields shows how you can use pragmatic strategies to address these dangerous judgment errors, whether in your professional life, your relationships, or other life areas

     

    Learn the Truth About Your Stakeholders Using 3 Key Social Intelligence Methods

     

    To facilitate a better exchange of thoughts and ideas, you can employ specific, tried-and-tested methods whenever you engage with your key influencers informed by social intelligence. Social intelligence refers to the strategic capacity to evaluate and influence other people’s emotions and relationships. Social intelligence-based methods will allow you to break the ice as well as strengthen the trust between your organization and your stakeholders. 

     

    A few months ago, I met with James, a coaching client of mine who is a VP of Sales of a B2B SaaS company. James learned that the CEO of a long-term, major client was thinking of potentially switching to their competitor. He was planning to meet with the CEO to learn why. 

     

    James approached me for advice because while he genuinely wanted to learn why the CEO was unsatisfied with their offering, he was unsure of how best to approach the CEO without coming off as too pushy or probing. I shared the following methods with James so that he can foster an open and sincere environment while meeting with the CEO – one of his key influencers – face to face:  

     

    1. Empathetic Listening

    Go beyond the surface level when trying to understand your key influencers. This means that when they are communicating with you, you should listen to what they mean and not just what they say. Your goal is empathy, the skill of understanding what other people feel. Focus not only on their message’s content, but also on their tone and body language. By doing so, you will be able to figure out what they mean and what explains their feelings. 

     

    One of the best ways to demonstrate empathy while engaging with your key influencers is to show them that you are paying full attention to them and nothing else, through:

     

    (a.) Nonverbal signals of attention, which includes:

    • Constant eye contact (casual, not intense)
    • Keeping your feet and shoulders pointed to them
    • Keeping your arms open, if you are sitting
    • Standing straight and not slouching, if you are standing
    • Smiling, nodding, and using hand gestures at appropriate times
    • Duchenne smile, not fake smile (includes eyes in smiling)

    (b.) Non-interruptive verbal signals of attention – includes saying “uh-huh”, “ok”, “go on”, etc., at appropriate times

     

     James decided to go ahead and meet with the CEO, Lisa, to discuss why their company was planning to switch to the competitor. Initially, Lisa wore a guarded expression and mostly gave terse answers to James’ initial questions. However, by maintaining eye contact and using non-interruptive verbal signals of attention, James was able to express to Lisa that he was sincerely interested in finding out why Lisa wanted to switch. Gradually, Lisa started to open up. James eventually learned that Lisa was unsatisfied with some of the price points for upgrading the product.

     

    2. Echoing and Mirroring

     

    Another way of showing that you are paying full attention is through echoing and mirroring, which includes:

     

    (a.) Rephrasing the essence of what your key influencer is saying with your own words every one to three minutes. For example:

     

    • “So what I’m hearing you say is ________. Is that right?”
    • “You’re saying that _________. Do I have it correct and complete?”

    If you have it right, the person you are talking to will be grateful that you were paying attention. If you don’t, they will be grateful that you checked and will correct it.

    (b.) Using their jargon – Notice specific words that your key influencer is using relevant to the issue, and integrate them into your echoing.

    (c.) Mirror in broad terms their tone and posture. For example, if they’re speaking formally, do so as well. If they’re leaning towards you, do so as well. Just pay attention to their body language and tone and try to match it, but don’t try to mirror everything quickly. When done correctly, this will help your key influencers feel connected to you and build trust.

     

    Circling back to James’ meeting with Lisa, James had some flexibility regarding the price points and decided to offer it as a solution. By this time, the ice had already been broken and Lisa was already conversing with him in a less formal manner. James decided to mirror her tone and posture and offered the solution in a more relaxed manner as well. 

     

    3. Curious Questioning

     

    Finally, injecting some genuine curiosity into your questioning will go a long way in expressing your sincere interest in your key influencer’s needs and concerns. It will help facilitate effective knowledge sharing and further refine your understanding of them. 

     

    The best way to do this is to envision what they would want you to ask them and to express curiosity in your questions without coming off as probing or provocative. Keep in mind that many people may not want to reveal their emotions directly, so an effective approach would be to ask them indirectly. For example:

     

    (a.) “If I was in this situation, I would feel _______. How about you?”

    (b.) You can also share a story about someone who felt an emotion you think they’re feeling in a similar situation, and see how they respond.

     

    You should already have some basic ideas based on a pre-engagement assessment, empathetic listening, and echoing to check for understanding. Remember that the goal is to further refine your understanding of their emotions, goals, incentives, values, and obstacles. 

     

    A week after he consulted me, James e-mailed me with great news: Lisa had accepted the solution he offered. A crisis was averted and their business relationship was more amiable compared to how stilted it was before their meeting. 

     

    Conclusion

     

    The best way to form lasting relationships with your stakeholders is to find out their needs and problems and address them. You can learn the truth by using the 3 social intelligence methods of empathetic listening, echoing and mirroring, and curious questioning. By doing so, you will be able to get to the root of problems, provide solid solutions, and strengthen relationships. 

     

    Key Takeaway

     

    Using the three social intelligence methods during a stakeholder meeting will help you learn the truth about your stakeholders’ needs, which will empower you to solve their problems and foster stronger relationships with them.---> Click to tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your answers below)

     

    • When was the last time you had difficulty learning the truth about your stakeholders’ needs and problems?

    • Is there anything in the article that will help you to get your stakeholders to open up to you?

    • Which next steps will you take based on reading this article? 

    Image credit: Pixabay

     

     

    Bio: An internationally-recognized thought leader known as the Disaster Avoidance Expert, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he is best known for Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020), and Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Changemakers Books, 2020). He published over 550 articles and gave more than 450 interviews to prominent venues such as Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Fast Company, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. It also stems from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154363 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154363 0
    What Is Unconscious Bias (And How You Can Defeat It)

    How do you defeat unconscious bias? First, you need to know what it is.

     

    Unconscious bias (also known as implicit bias) refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age, and so on. It differs from cognitive bias, which is a predictable pattern of mental errors that result in us misperceiving reality and, as a result, deviating away from the most likely way of reaching our goals.

     

    In other words, from the perspective of what is best for us as individuals, falling for a cognitive bias always harms us by lowering our probability of getting what we want. Despite cognitive biases sometimes leading to discriminatory thinking and feeling patterns, these are two separate and distinct concepts.

     

    Cognitive biases are common across humankind and relate to the particular wiring of our brains, while unconscious bias relates to perceptions between different groups and are specific for the society in which we live. For example, I bet you don’t care or even think about whether someone is a noble or a commoner, yet that distinction was fundamentally important a few centuries ago across Europe. To take another example — a geographic instead of one across time — most people in the US don’t have strong feelings about Sunni vs. Shiite Muslims, yet this distinction is incredibly meaningful in many parts of the world.

     

    Organizations often bring me in as a speaker on diversity and inclusion to address potential unconscious discriminatory behavior. When I share in speeches that black Americans suffer from police harassment and violence at a much higher rate than white people, some participants (usually white) occasionally try to defend the police by claiming that black people are more violent and likely to break the law than whites. They thus attribute police harassment to the internal characteristics of black people (implying that it is deserved), not to the external context of police behavior.

     

    In reality — as I point out in my response to these folks — research shows that black people are harassed and harmed by police at a much higher rate for the same kind of activity. A white person walking by a cop, for example, is statistically much less likely to be stopped and frisked than a black one. At the other end of things, a white person resisting arrest is much less likely to be violently beaten than a black one. In other words, statistics show that the higher rate of harassment and violence against black Americans by police is due to the prejudice of the police officers, at least to a large extent.

     

    However, I am careful to clarify that this discrimination is not necessarily intentional. Sometimes, it indeed is deliberate, with white police officers consciously believing that black Americans deserve much more scrutiny than whites. At other times, the discriminatory behavior results from unconscious, implicit thought processes that the police officer would not consciously endorse.

     

    Interestingly, research shows that many black police officers have an unconscious prejudice against other black people, perceiving them in a more negative light than white people when evaluating potential suspects. This unconscious bias carried by many — not all — black police officers helps show that such prejudices come — at least to a significant extent — from internal cultures within police departments, rather than pre-existing racist attitudes before someone joins a police department.

     

    Such cultures are perpetuated by internal norms, policies, and training procedures, and any police department wishing to address unconscious bias needs to address internal culture first and foremost, rather than attributing racism to individual officers. In other words, instead of saying it’s a few bad apples in a barrel of overall good ones, the key is recognizing that implicit bias is a systemic issue, and the structure and joints of the barrel needs to be fixed.

     

    The crucial thing to highlight is that there is no shame or blame in implicit bias, as it’s not stemming from any fault in the individual. This no-shame approach decreases the fight, freeze, or flight defensive response among reluctant audiences, helping them hear and accept the issue.

     

    With these additional statistics and discussion of implicit bias, the issue is generally settled. Still, from their subsequent behavior it’s clear that some of these audience members don’t immediately internalize this evidence. It’s much more comforting for them to feel that police officers are right and anyone targeted by police deserves it; in turn, they are highly reluctant to accept the need to focus more efforts and energy on protecting black Americans from police violence, due to the structural challenges facing these groups.

     

    The issue of unconscious bias doesn’t match their intuitions and thus they reject this concept, despite extensive and strong evidence for its pervasive role in policing. It takes a series of subsequent follow-up conversations and interventions to move the needle. A single training is almost never sufficient, both in my experience and according to research.

     

    This example of how to fight unconscious bias illustrates broader patterns you need to follow to address such problems in order to address unconscious bias to make the best people decisions. After all, our gut reactions lead us to make poor judgment choices, when we simply follow our intuitions.

     

    1) Instead, you need to start by learning about the kind of problems that result from unconscious bias yourself, so that you know what you’re trying to address.

    2) Then, you need to convey to people who you want to influence, such as your employees or any other group or even yourself, that there should be no shame or guilt in acknowledging our instincts.

    3) Next, you need to convey the dangers associated with following their intuitions, to build up an emotional investment into changing behaviors.

    4) Then, you need to convey the right mental habits that will help them make the best choices.  

    Remember, a one-time training is insufficient for doing so. It takes a long-term commitment and constant discipline and efforts to overcome unconscious bias.

     

    Key Takeaways

     

    To address unconscious bias requires understanding what it is and where and how you might fall into it. Just as importantly, it requires developing a series of healthy mental habits that prevent you from falling for unconscious bias. — -> Click to tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your thoughts in the comments section)

    • What are some case studies of unconscious bias that you observed?
    • Where might unconscious bias be a problem for you?
    • What steps will you take based on reading this article?

     

    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

     

    Originally Published at Disaster Avoidance Experts

     

     — 

     

     

    Bio: An internationally-recognized thought leader known as the Disaster Avoidance Expert, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he is best known for Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020), and Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Changemakers Books, 2020). He published over 550 articles and gave more than 450 interviews to prominent venues such as Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Fast Company, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. It also stems from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

    ]]>
    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154372 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154372 0
    How Your Household Can Survive and Thrive During This Pandemic

     

    The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it, as well as how we manage our households. While being shut mostly in our homes or observing infection prevention guidelines when leaving our house, it can be pretty hard to grapple with the reality of the world in which we now live. And yet, this is what we must all do to survive and thrive in this new abnormal.

    Same Home, Different House Rules?

    Susan, an entrepreneur and coaching client of mine, had a difficult time adjusting to the COVID-19 reality. As the founder of a 20-people startup in the medical devices industry, she was used to a routine and thrived by keeping her work life separate from her personal life. She also considered herself to be resilient and organized and thought she would just be coasting until the pandemic was over.

    By late March, she had already figured out how wrong she was.

    As she watched and read the news on how the pandemic was unfolding, Susan started to realize that things might not be going back to the way it was before anytime soon.

    Accompanying this uncomfortable feeling was the fact that she could not seem to craft a new routine while working from home. She found it difficult to concentrate on work while also spending more time with her nine-year-old child, who was staying home from school.

    In addition, her relationship with her husband — which for the most part had always been loving and easygoing — had started to become tense. Her husband was the main homemaker and caretaker of their child while she worked at an office. However, the pandemic changed that, and she found herself having to interact more with her husband and her child, who would pop in and out of her work space during work hours.

    Susan reached out to me because she felt that she was not adapting well to the situations surrounding the pandemic as she had started to become curt with her child and her husband, who was also dealing with his own set of worries over an elderly parent in a nursing home. Aside from these, she was also unable to concentrate on her startup due to all the household interruptions.  

    Knowing and Facing This New Abnormal

    When I met with Susan over Zoom — by this time I had already moved my previously hybrid in-person and virtual coaching to all virtual — I told her that there were some essential points that she needed to understand in order to adjust to the new COVID-19 reality.

    First and foremost, we won’t get anywhere if we don’t face the facts. We need to acknowledge that COVID-19 fundamentally disrupted our world, turning it upside down in a few short weeks in February and March 2020. We have to move past the discomfort of the normalcy bias and our intuitive feeling that the novel coronavirus “one day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” to quote Donald Trump’s words from a February 28 press conference.

    Regrettably, it will not disappear; believing that it will helped get us mired so deep in this mess, making the US outbreak the worst in the world in terms of the number of deaths. The normalcy bias is one of over a hundred dangerous judgment errors that scholars in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics like myself call cognitive biases. They result from a combination of our evolutionary background and specific structural features in how our brains are wired.

    Instead, we need to adapt to the long haul of battling COVID-19, at least until we create an effective vaccine, mass produce and distribute it, and actually vaccinate people. Optimistically, that will be in early 2022; more realistically, 2024–25; pessimistically, we’d never get an effective vaccine, for instance making do with weak versions that prevent 50% of all infections. If you think that’s too cynical, you may not realize that, despite facing the flu for over a century, our vaccine for it is still only about 50% effective.

    Prior to a vaccine, we will be coping with COVID-19 through extreme measures such as thorough lockdowns and extensive social distancing in areas with outbreaks that don’t have the capacity and/or the political will to do the public health work that enables less extraordinary measures. That public health work involves not only providing the equipment, medications, and personnel needed to treat a surge of patients during outbreaks: that’s necessary, but not sufficient.

    To relax extreme measures requires the public health work of quickly testing those with flu-like symptoms, isolating anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing anyone they interacted with and asking those people to self-quarantine for 2 weeks, and using antibody testing to certify those who recovered from COVID-19 and are at least temporarily protected from re-infection to work in exposed areas. It also requires public education work of getting people to comply with social distancing, wear masks, minimize unnecessary social contacts, impose social peer pressure on noncompliers, and more broadly follow public health guidelines and support health workers.

    Given that reality, you can anticipate that what will happen will be as follows: 1) Extreme lockdowns and social distancing to bring COVID-19 under control in a given area; 2) In a few weeks, a gradual loosening of some restrictions after COVID-19 cases fall to a minimal number; 3) After a few weeks or — if you’re lucky — several months, COVID-19 cases will start to grow and the regional government will impose another round of extreme measures. Such whack-a-mole waves of loosening and tightening restrictions will continue until we find a vaccine.

    Survive and Thrive in the Pandemic

    So how can you most effectively adapt to the uncertainty and dislocation that accompanies this new abnormal?

    While you’re in a new abnormal, your underlying needs and wants remain the same. You just need to figure out different ways toward satisfying them. These ways should rely much less on interacting in-person with people who aren’t part of your immediate household and much more with those who are;

    they should also rely much less on travel, whether in your local area or around the globe, and much more on staying at home.

    You might have heard of Abraham Maslow’s theory of human motivation and the pyramid of needs based on his work. More recent research, summarized in Scott Barry Kaufman’s excellent book Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization, revises this model to show that our fundamental needs consist of safety, connection, and self-esteem, and we will feel deprived without them. We also have needs that help us achieve our full potential through personal growth, what Maslow called “self- actualization” and what Kaufman more clearly defined as exploration, love, and purpose. A good approach to adapting to the new abnormal is evaluating your life through the lens of these needs and ensuring that you can still satisfy them.

    Safety

    Let’s start with physical safety. You should make sure you and your family are able to stay safe in your home for up to 2 months in case of a major outbreak in your area, let’s say as bad as happened in New York City. While unlikely, it pays to prepare for a realistic pessimistic scenario. That means having 2 months of basic food and cleaning supplies, along with any necessary medications.

    Notice that 2 months is much more than the paltry 2 weeks recommended by the CDC, a far too optimistic guideline that fails to provide sufficient safety.

    To prevent supply disruptions for others, consider buying such goods in bulk from specialized online vendors rather than emptying the shelves in your local grocery store. It’s both more responsible and cheaper.

    Going back to Susan, she realized that when the pandemic hit, she had focused on transitioning her work to a virtual setup and not much else. Days into the lockdown, she realized that she and her husband had missed stocking up on food, and also lacked the necessary cleaning and medical supplies.

    Another dilemma was that despite both of them being willing to cook more, their work lives were as hectic as when it was still on site — with Susan working on her startup and her husband having his hands full taking care of their child — and so they also didn’t have as much free time. Susan decided to order everything online, from groceries to medicine. She was also able to find a prepared foods vendor that can deliver cooked food to her home daily.  

    Connection to Others

    Protecting your mental safety brings us to the second fundamental need: connection to others. It’s a topic I describe in much more depth in my best-seller, The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships.

    First, consider your immediate connections with members of the household.

    If you have a romantic partner in your household, you’ll have to figure out how to interact in a healthy manner given that you’re together 24/7. You’ll likely get into each other’s spaces and on each other’s nerves. It’s much wiser to anticipate and work out these problems in advance than have them blow up down the road. The same principle applies to other members of your family. If you have older children who moved home after university closed, or younger children who aren’t going to school after it closed, you’ll need to figure out how to deal with them being cooped up inside. This includes staying in touch with their schools to get updates on online school work.

    You’ll have to put more thought into dealing with older adults over 60 or anyone with underlying

    health conditions in your household (including yourself if you fit either category). Given their much greater vulnerability to COVID-19, you and other members of your household need to take serious measures to prevent them from getting ill. That means being more careful yourself than you would otherwise be, since over half of all those with COVID-19 have no or light symptoms. Remember: don’t kill Grandma. And don’t let other members of your household kill Grandma.

    Second, what about your connection to those who you care about who aren’t part of your household?

    Your romantic partner might not be part of your household. Depending on how vulnerable to COVID-19 you and other members of your household might be, you might choose to take the risk of physical intimacy with your romantic partner, but you have to make this decision consciously rather than casually. Or you might choose to have a social-distance relationship, meeting at a distance of 10 feet or by videoconference.

    The same goes for your friends. You can’t have a beer with them or meet for lunch in person, at least closer than 6 feet, and ideally 10. You’ll need to figure out effective ways of interacting with them virtually during this difficult time of the next several years, combined with socially distanced hanging out when possible, given restrictions and lockdowns.

    You’ll also want to think about how you’ll revise your community activities: faith-based groups, clubs, nonprofit activism, and so on. For instance, you should definitely avoid church services for now, but fortunately many churches offer video worship services, and that will have to do. You can take the lead in your club on moving to video conference meetings. You will have to figure out how to replace your in- person volunteering, perhaps with virtual volunteering or with donations.

    During one of our coaching sessions, Susan said she hadn’t realized how strained her relationship with her husband was until I had pointed out the need for healthy interaction while being together 24/7. After our talk, she sat down with her husband to have a serious conversation about the situation. Together, they decided to stick to their own separate routines, have their own spaces apart (with Susan spending time at her home office and her husband and child spending the days accomplishing school work in the living area), and come together as a family after the workday is done — as they would have before the pandemic — so that they wouldn’t get on each other’s nerves.

    Soon after, they also sat down and conversed with their young child regarding COVID-19, remaining calm and simply discussing what they, as a family, needed to do to stay healthy. Due to their reassuring manner, their child expressed more willingness to open up to them about any worries he might have regarding the pandemic.

    Susan and her husband also set aside some time during the weekend to reconnect with friends and immediate and extended family. Video calls were a big help in catching up with how their loved ones were doing, and it also brought Susan immense relief to find out that she wasn’t the only one struggling to adjust to the new abnormal.

    They were able to schedule video calls with her husband’s father, who was in a nursing home. This helped ease Susan’s husband’s worries, and his improved mood also helped restore their healthy interactions.

    Susan and her husband also decided to stick to their pre-pandemic family weekend routine of just relaxing and spending time on personal hobbies, avoiding any work as much as possible.

     

    Self-esteem

    Finally, address the third fundamental need of self-esteem, which refers to your self-confidence, self-respect, and sense of mastery over your fate. Thinking through and making a plan for addressing your physiological and mental safety and your relationships during the next several years of the pandemic will help you strengthen your sense of control and confidence. You’ll also want to think about other areas where you can further master in this time of restrictions and limitations.

    For example, being at home offers a great opportunity to learn an instrument, pick up coding skills, or try to make a viral YouTube video. Doing so is empowering and can help anyone develop a sense of mastery over their environment.

    Susan realized that working from home had afforded her an extra hour before dinner (time she used to spend wrapping up for the day at the office and driving home) and decided to take the opportunity to brush up on her guitar skills in the living area. It was the perfect way to transition from work to home mode, and her husband and child often joined her as they wound down their days as well.

     

    Conclusion

     

    Towards the end of our coaching sessions, Susan informed me that she had finally established a balanced work-life routine that suits her and protects her relationships with her loved ones. After facing the facts regarding what lies ahead in this pandemic reality, she was able to make appropriate personal plans and move forward, eventually restoring a healthy interaction with her husband and child. While Susan was satisfied with that state and we did not pursue self-actualization conversations, you can check out Kaufmann’s book to learn more about this area.

    While the new abnormal ushered in by COVID-19 has brought unprecedented changes to our lives, there’s no reason you can’t survive and thrive in the new abnormal while we wait for a vaccine. You just need to identify, anticipate, and take care of your fundamental needs.

    Key Takeaway  

    You can survive and thrive in the new abnormal of the pandemic by identifying and addressing fundamental needs of your household — safety, connection, and self-esteem. — -> Click to tweet

    Questions to Consider (please share your answers below)

     

    • How aware are you of your household’s fundamental needs?
    • Where might you do a better job of satisfying your own and your family’s fundamental needs during this pandemic?
    • Which next steps will you take based on reading this article?

     

    Image credit: Pixabay

     

    Bio: An internationally-recognized thought leader known as the Disaster Avoidance Expert, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he is best known for Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020), and Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Changemakers Books, 2020). He has over 550 articles and 450 interviews in Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Fast Company, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, and over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

    Originally Published at Disaster Avoidance Experts

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154377 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154377 0
    The Trap of Getting Back to Normal in the Pandemic

     

    As the vast majority of companies rush to reopen, they’re falling into the trap of “getting back to normal.” They’re not realizing we’re heading into a period of waves of restrictions once again, due to many states reopening too soon. Indeed, some of the states to open early onward have already reimposed some restrictions, showing that as I predicted way back at the start of the pandemic, we will be facing rolling waves of restrictions and shutdowns, and need to focus much more on virtual interactions.  

    We need to realize that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the way companies and organizations — big or small — operate. Organizations have to find a way to survive and thrive in this new abnormal, so it’s important for leadership teams to do a reality check regularly. To do so, we need to understand the parallels between what’s going on now, and what happened at the start of the pandemic.  

    Consider Tim, the CFO of a 90-person tech start-up based in Texas that provides HR and Payroll software, along with other business back-end software. Unfortunately, the company’s leadership team, including Tim, believed Elon Musk’s statements when he downplayed the coronavirus in March.  

    Since the C-suite thought the pandemic wasn’t a big deal and would blow over soon, they didn’t take the necessary precautions and preparations and ended up in a bad place when the shutdowns occurred. They had to turn to their very basic business continuity plan that did not factor in something as large scale as a pandemic. Thinking that things would “normalize” soon, they held off on making major decisions, such as moving all their operations to a virtual setup.  

    Tim decided to contact me for a consultation after learning about my work through a recent webinar I conducted about how organizations can adapt to the changes brought by the pandemic. When he called me, his company was already embroiled in internal team conflicts and service interruptions, which resulted in a number of clients having problems with the software, and a couple of major clients even threatening to cancel. It was evident that the company needed help getting out of murky waters — and soon.  

    Knowing and Facing This New Abnormal  

    When I met with Tim as well as the company’s CEO and COO over Zoom — by this time I had already moved my previously hybrid in-person and virtual consultations to all virtual — I told them that there were some essential points that they needed to understand in order for their company to survive in this new COVID-19 reality.  

    First and foremost, we won’t get anywhere if we don’t face the facts. We need to acknowledge that COVID-19 fundamentally disrupted our world, turning it upside down in a few short weeks in February and March 2020. Regrettably, it will not disappear; believing that it will helped get us mired so deep in this mess, making the US outbreak one of the the worst in the world in terms of the number of deaths.  

    However, you might be wondering, why did Elon Musk — and even some political leaders — downplay the COVID-19 pandemic? It’s not like doing so had personal benefits for these leaders. They wound up thoroughly humiliated when proven wrong, hurting their credibility.  

    The causes stem from a combination of three factors: the nature of the virus itself, the preexisting beliefs and plans of the political and business leaders, and the dangerous judgment errors we all tend to make that cognitive neuroscientists and behavioral economists call cognitive biases.  

    Cognitive Biases and the Coronavirus  

    So what are cognitive biases? Many pundits heap praise on business leaders who make quick gut decisions: about the direction of their company, about whether to launch a new product, about which candidate to hire. Sadly, just going with our gut frequently leads to devastating results for our professional and personal lives.  

    Consider the Equifax data breach scandal. In May 2017, hackers stole the credit information of over 148 million people from the consumer credit reporting company Equifax, exploiting a security flaw that the company should have known it needed to fix, with the data breach called “entirely preventable” by a December 2018 Congressional Report by the House Oversight Committee. Even worse, the Equifax C-suite decided to cover up the incident for several months. The disastrous decision to conduct a cover-up — inevitably discovered later — gravely damaged Equifax’s reputation, caused a large and lasting drop in the company’s stock, and led to the CEO and a number of other top executives being forced out due to incompetence.  

    What about the Boeing leadership’s catastrophic decision making on rushing its 737 Max airplane into production, despite a number of safety issues well known inside the company? In fact, one Boeing pilot, in a message to a colleague in 2016, said “this airplane is designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys.” Undeterred by such concerns inside the company, the Boeing leadership went ahead with production, cutting corners in the approval process. The story ends with two deadly crashes that killed 346 people and grounded the 737 Max, Boeing losing over $25 billion in market value before the pandemic, and the Boeing board firing its CEO.  

    Make no mistake: each of the cases above exemplify value-destroying decisions that hurt shareholders by top corporate leaders who followed their gut. These examples of top leaders at prominent companies are not an isolated instance: a four-year study by LeadershipIQ.com interviewed 1,087 board members from 286 organizations of all sorts that forced out their chief executive officers. It found that over 20 percent of CEOs got fired for denying reality, meaning they refused to recognize negative facts about the organization’s performance. Other research shows that professionals at all levels suffer from the tendency to deny uncomfortable facts in business settings. Sadly, just going with our gut frequently leads to devastating results for our decision-making and leadership initiatives.  

    Roughly speaking, we have two thinking systems. Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize for his research on behavioral economics, calls them System 1 and 2. I prefer the terms autopilot system and intentional system, which I believe describe these systems more clearly.  

    The autopilot system corresponds to our emotions and intuitions, and its cognitive processes center around the amygdala, an older part of our brain. This system guides our daily habits, helps us make snap decisions, and reacts instantly to dangerous life-and-death situations through the freeze, fight, or flight stress response. While the snap judgments resulting from intuitions and emotions usually feel “true” because they are fast and powerful, they sometimes lead us wrong in systematic and predictable ways.  

    The intentional system reflects our rational thinking, and centers around the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that evolved more recently. This thinking system helps us handle more complex mental activities, such as managing individual and group relationships, logical reasoning, probabilistic thinking, and learning new information and patterns of thinking and behavior.  

    While the automatic system requires no conscious effort to function, the intentional system takes deliberate effort to turn on and is mentally tiring. Fortunately, with enough motivation and appropriate training, we can learn to use the intentional system to address situations where we tend to make systematic and predictable errors.  

    Scientists call these mental blindspots cognitive biases. One of these is the normalcy bias, which caused Tim and his colleagues in the leadership team to decide erroneously at the onset, and amidst, this pandemic.  

    Dealing With the Normalcy Bias  

    The normalcy bias refers to the fact that our autopilot system drives us to feel that the future, at least in the short and medium term of the next couple of years, will function in roughly the same way as the past: normally. As a result, we tend to vastly underestimate both the possibility and impact of a disaster striking us.  

    This bias leads individuals, businesses, and governments to fail to prepare nearly as well as they should for the likelihood and effects of catastrophes, especially slow-moving train wrecks such as pandemics.  

    Given all that, the only way to deal with COVID-19 conclusively involves finding a vaccine. It usually takes a decade or more to develop a vaccine, due to the extensive financial costs and safety regulations around the approval process. Fortunately, government, market, and philanthropic forces have combined to channel extensive funding toward developing vaccines and minimizing the approval process standards to the bare minimum needed to ensure safety and effectiveness.  

    Still, while over a hundred organizations launched projects to develop vaccines, and several have created a viable prototype, it will take many months for the vaccine to go through human trials. First, we’ll have a trial lasting several months to evaluate whether the vaccine has unacceptable side effects (in a regular, non-emergency situation, this part usually 1–2 years). Then, we’ll need more trials lasting a few more months to test whether the vaccine is actually effective (typically 2–4 years). Then, government bodies have to review the trial data to confirm effectiveness, which would take another few months (usually 2–4 years). Finally, we’ll need to see which of the many vaccines being developed and put through trials offers the best combination of maximal effectiveness with minimal side effects.  

    According to the top vaccine experts, this is the one step of the process that can’t be rushed or solved by throwing money or expertise at it. If we’ll be pumping something into the arms of billions of people around the world, we need to get it right.  

    Now, if a vaccine shows a great deal of promise, it’s possible that those at highest risk and most impact, such as medical workers in areas with inadequate protective equipment, might get a vaccine as an experimental measure. For them, the risk might be worth it; besides, their medical training would help ensure that they can give truly informed consent. But that’s not mass vaccination.  

    In the ideal scenario, if one of the first several vaccines does successfully make it through the trials and proves highly effective without any unacceptable side effects — a very big if — we might have a vaccine approved for widespread use by summer of 2021.  

    What then? Well, we need to manufacture the vaccine in mass, to vaccine at least the more vulnerable categories and eventually everyone. Producing enough vaccine for only, say, the 100 million vulnerable Americans would take a few months. You also have the obstacle of distributing it and actually vaccinating people, as well as dealing with anti-vaxxer sentiments, so another few months. That brings us into the start of 2022 on a highly optimistic timeline.  

    Given that only a very small percentage of all vaccines make it through the trials, due either to unacceptable side effects or insufficient effectiveness, we shouldn’t expect that we’ll get so wonderfully lucky. More realistically, it might be not until 2023–24 when we get a sufficiently safe and effective vaccine.  

    And if the universe decides to show us the middle finger, we might never find an effective vaccine to COVID-19. After all, we don’t have a fully effective vaccine against the flu. The one we have is a weak vaccine, only about 40% effective on average in reducing the likelihood of getting the flu, as well as reducing the severity of the flu if you do get it. That’s because the flu virus mutates quickly. So far, it seems that the novel coronavirus fortunately does not, so it’s very likely that we’ll escape the middle finger scenario, but we can’t yet rule it out.  

    Now, this information was known from February 2020. However, the normalcy bias makes it very difficult for us to imagine that our world can turn upside down so quickly. In early 2020, it was extremely uncomfortable for political and business leaders, and ordinary citizens, to even begin to imagine that it would be until early 2022 that we can — with incredible luck — expect to deal with COVID-19, and more realistically 2024–25. That’s despite clear statements from the best scientific experts to that effect.  

    It was pretty clear even from my first Zoom call with Tim and the CEO and COO of the company that their leadership team had suffered from the normalcy bias. Fortunately, recent research has shown us how we can effectively deal with such dangerous judgment errors.  

    For the normalcy bias, it’s critical to understand the dangers of falling into it and acknowledge the pain you cause yourself and your company by doing so. Then, you need to consider realistically the long-term outcomes and plan for a realistic scenario that addresses the likelihood of major disruptions.  

    However, it took until the second consultation call for them to admit (more than a bit grudgingly, actually) that they had succumbed to this mental blindspot. This refusal to admit to reality had less to do with the veracity of the facts I presented to them but their initial unwillingness to let go of their “gut feel”.  

    After discussing the above points with them, they admitted that it was time to face what lies ahead. It was time to prepare their company for a much bigger disruption than they anticipated. We used the “Defend Your Future” technique to help them plan out for a variety of potential futures. We decided that while they would hope for the best, they would plan for the worst, a wise strategy for addressing the normalcy bias.  

    Road to Adapting to the New Abnormal  

    As the pandemic broke out, companies and other organizations overwhelmingly turned to their existing emergency business continuity plan and then simply continued with that plan as the pandemic continued.  

    Yet continuing with emergency measures throughout the minimal 2 years of the pandemic is not wise, to say the least. A business continuity plan is meant for a week or two, a month at most if it’s a really good plan, before things start returning to normal (I tell you this as someone who helped businesses and nonprofits design many business continuity plans).  

    Unfortunately, we will not return to the “normal” status quo ante pandemic. Ever.  

    Do you think that, even in the most optimistic scenario of only 2 years of waves of stricter and looser shutdowns and social distancing, our society will ever be the same? Of course not. And let’s remember that we shouldn’t plan for the most optimistic scenario. As the saying goes, hope for the best, but plan for the worst. So assume a 5-year horizon instead of 2 years.  

    Companies need to adapt to the next few months, not the next few years. And your emergency measures won’t cut it. You need to accept the current reality of ongoing waves of restrictions as the new abnormal, instead of a temporary emergency. That means fundamentally changing your business model if you want your company, nonprofit, or other organization to survive and thrive during these troubled years.  

    This will include taking a long, hard look at your internal and external business models and scrutinizing the elements that drive your business. It will also entail revising or, in some cases, even totally revamping your daily operations and business continuity plan.  

    No Longer Struggling, But Thriving  

    When I last spoke with Tim in the end of June 2020, he told me that he, along with the CEO and COO, had decided to share their findings and the points we discussed during the coaching sessions with the rest of the leadership team. It was a difficult conversation, due to the growing conflicts in the company and mutual recrimination.  

    However, after realizing that there wasn’t much sense playing the blame game given the urgency of the situation, the C-suite decided to buckle down and address the problems head on. After outlining the problems and potential solutions, they eventually got widespread buy-in to do what needed to be done in order to propel their company onto recovery.  

    The leadership team swiftly addressed the internal conflicts, which was the necessary first step to addressing all the other issues.  

    They focused much more efforts on a long-term transition to virtual. They minimized their physical footprint, having only a couple of people in the office to take care of necessary paperwork and finances.  

    Tim, along with the CEO and COO as well as the VP of IT, made sure that quick, effective changes were made to the company’s policies and processes so that operations would be in line with the transition to virtual.  

    After the internal conflicts and systems had been addressed, the leadership team focused on reaching out to the clients who were threatening to cancel due to the service interruptions. The company’s tech and customer service teams — at that time finally fully operational again — stepped up to soothe ruffled feathers and provide excellent support, from service restoration all the way to providing free additional wide-scale training on the software. Due to these efforts, most of the cancellations were averted, although two smaller clients did cancel.  

    Tim told me that he and the leadership team were pleased with the results of the changes they made. He also expressed to me how glad he was they did so once the numbers of COVID-19 cases in Texas began to increase in mid-June, prompting a pause of the reopening process that eventually led to shutdowns again in late June.  

    Conclusion  

    During these disruptive times of the pandemic, it’s important to be agile and resilient. Keep in mind that even if your company was not able to make the best decisions at the onset of the pandemic, you can still steer it back to the right path by fighting and protecting against cognitive biases.  

    Key Takeaway

     

    Your company can survive and thrive in the new abnormal of the pandemic by protecting yourself from mental blindspots such as the normalcy bias. — -> Click to tweet

     

    Questions to Consider (please share your answers below)

     

    • Did your leadership team make bad decisions at the onset of the pandemic, and do you now want to make things right?
    • Where might you do a better job of fighting against the normalcy bias?
    • Which next steps will you take based on reading this article?

    Image credit: Pixabay

     

     

    Bio: An internationally-recognized thought leader known as the Disaster Avoidance Expert, Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A best-selling author, he is best known for Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020), and Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Changemakers Books, 2020). He published over 550 articles and gave more than 450 interviews to prominent venues such as Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, CBS News, Time, Business Insider, Government Executive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Fast Company, and elsewhere. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts. It also stems from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, LinkedIn, and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course.

     

    Originally Published at Disaster Avoidance Experts

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    Tue, 11 Aug 2020 13:34:10 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154383 https://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/154383 0