Getting your decisions bias free

https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Bias

  1. Bias is a disproportionate weight in favor of or against an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded, prejudicial, or unfair.
  2. Biases can be innate or learned. People may develop biases for or against an individual, a group, or a belief. In science and engineering, a bias is a systematic error.

For me my biases are such sneaky little buggers that I often don’t even notice them until I look back. Big prejudices are obvious (well for some folks they are not) and you need to work on them. So many biases however camouflage themselves as good intentions, or ‘that’s the way everyone does things.’ It’s taken as given that you need to be pretty clever and also have expertise in the specific area.

But the thing that makes 70% of our decisions a bit wonky, is personal bias.

Incentives don’t prevent biases.

Despite decades of research on the effect of large incentives on cognitive biases is scant. One paper tests the effect of incentives on four widely documented biases.  In laboratory experiments with 1,236 college students, they implemented three incentive levels: no incentives, standard lab payments, and very high incentives that increase the stakes by a factor of 100 to more than a monthly income.

They found that response times increase by 40 percent with very high stakes. Performance, on the other hand, improves very mildly or not at all as incentives increase. In none of the tasks are very high stakes sufficient to de-bias participants, or come even close to doing so.

So if  incentives don’t work what does?

8 Bias Busters for busy leaders

For really very important decisions here are 8 proven biased busters. They are all about changing your mindset.  Each of these offer a different view of the problem which offers you different perspective and provides you with a bias free understanding.

Consider you are about to decide on some action after a problem at work.

  1. In your team or area of work, who will be pleased about your decision?

Who will be displeased? Why? How does this affect you as you think about this? What does this mean?  Consider. Review

  1. Upon what principles and code have you based your decision? (at this point most of a scramble to identify an underlying principle.)

Can you link it to a good business principle? What does this tell you? If you can’t link it to a good business principle? What does this tell you? Consider. Review

  1. Toss a coin.  No seriously toss a coin. If it comes up heads your decision is right. If it comes up tails your decision is wrong.

The coin toss is just a gimmick.  The real task here is,  what are you feeling and thinking as you toss the coin? Are you hoping for heads? Why?

What’s your investment in confirming your decision by a coin toss? Are you troubled that it might turn up tails or will you be relieved? Consider. Review.

  1. What would an opponent or colleague whose opinions you dislike say about your decision?

What do you think and feel about the imagined reaction? Why? What does your reaction tell you about your decision? Consider. Review.

 

  1. What would your best friend/colleague/ partner, whose opinions you value, say about your decision?

What do you think and feel about the imagined reaction? Why?

What does your reaction tell you about your decision? Consider. Review.

 

  1. Imagine if you were required to make this decision when you were just starting out very early in your career?

Would you make the same decision? Or different? Why? Consider. Review.

 

  1. Do you have strong feelings about your decision and the way you made it?

If they are negative feelings what’s your investment and how will the decision help? If they are positive feelings what’s your investment and how will the decision help?

What did you learn about yourself? Does this affect your decision? Consider. Review.

  1. You are standing in front of a tribunal justifying your decision.

What do you say? Why?

What are you feeling? What does this tell you about your decision? Consider. Review.

My favourite bias is thinking I know lots of stuff. What’s  yours?

 

Graham@mca-group.com.au