Cognitive bias is something all of us need to understand.
It affects our own decisions as well as those our leaders make in running the business. It affects the setting of strategy as well as its execution. It affects our and others' assessment of what might happen (aka risk). It affects our trust and belief in ourselves and those we rely on for information.
How Does Cognitive Bias Affect Decision Making?
We need to understand how cognitive bias affects our and others' decisions so we can fight it. It can lead us to making the wrong decisions and failing to optimize our personal and enterprise performance.
- Perhaps the best-known name in the field of cognitive bias is Daniel Kahneman. "Thinking Fast and Slow" is a major work. I highly recommend this video summary.
- 24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality includes a great infographic I recommend downloading and keeping where you can see it.
- "Why Smart People Make Stupid Decisions" includes a list of cognitive biases and a few ideas for addressing them.
- The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) has shared a recorded interview with a professor of psychology. (If you don’t want to listen to it, there is a link to a transcript). In Depth: Brains and Bias discusses some real life examples.
As I look back on my own career, I can think of many situations where I made what turned out to be a poor decision as a result of my own bias. For example:
- I trusted people that I liked for their outgoing personality (charm) when I should have challenged their knowledge of the subject more thoroughly.
- I hired individuals for their resume and certifications over others who probably had more imagination and curiosity.
- I had too much respect for those in authority, trusting that they would follow through on commitments.
Related Article: Can Artificial Intelligence Weed Out Unconscious Bias?
Have You Ever Been Led Astray?
As you look at the decisions you make yourself, the "risk assessments" you make or facilitate, the people who come to you with information, are you aware of how your biases may lead you astray?
What do we need to do to help those making business decisions become aware of their cognitive biases and combat them?
I think it starts with the essential first step of recognizing our own fallibility, our own biases.
I welcome your thoughts on this important topic.