A rapidly changing decision making landscape
It is no secret that our world is rapidly becoming more complex, fast-paced, and globally connected. As a result of this change, teams are faced with the challenge of making mission critical decisions that involve a wealth of data, the evaluation of a number of viable alternatives, and the consideration of potential risks that may arise in the distant future. Add the fact that these types of decisions often require a group of people with diverse skill sets to work together, fostering what is known as “collective intelligence”, and the decision-making process becomes increasingly difficult.
This would all be fine if we weren’t so ill-equipped to deal with our modern world and the challenges it presents to our organizations in the context of complex decision making!
The ill-equipped decision maker
While the world continues to change, we wait patiently for a hardware upgrade in the form of a brain that excels in our current decision-making landscape.While we wait for that upgrade, we are stuck with a brain that is well-equipped to make the decisions that are not mission critical anymore. A simple decision where the risks and alternatives are obvious and the feedback regarding the quality of the decision made is immediate is what we’re great at.
Ask us whether or not we should challenge that large bear for some of those fresh blueberries she’s sharing with her cubs, and we can quickly weigh the risks, rewards, and few alternatives, and then make the correct decision (back away from the berries).
Ask us, a group diverse in culture, skill set and industry experience to choose one startup to invest in from a list of 50 viable companies by evaluating each prospect on over a dozen decision criteria… and our hardware’s shortcomings become apparent.
We do not have the luxury of avoiding these important decisions. Our organization’s success is directly dependent on making the decisions of the complex variety, and so we make those decisions.
But, these decisions we make are riddled with biases!
The biased decision maker
It’s not our fault, but it is well-established that we introduce a number of biases throughout the decision-making process. The kind of biases introduced is heavily dependent on which of the two broad decision-making stages we are on.
For example, during the first stage where we are generating potential choices to decide on, we tend to favour information that confirms our own assumptions, settle on a solution because it is simple and straight forward, or think we’ve found the best option prematurely. In short, we think our beliefs are best, seek support for those beliefs, and shun information that contradicts them, and then we like to make a haste decision. That isn’t to say that we can’t be influenced by others during this stage – we most certainly can and often are. If someone is more senior or dominant, we may generate ideas that this teammate would approve of as opposed to our own ideas which may be the best ideas.
During the second stage of decision-making, when we are evaluating the different possibilities, we are prone to another set of biases. We tend to avoid rigor in the form of statistical analysis, we shy away from risk, we can be easily influenced by the strong presentation of a proposed solution, and we tend to focus our attention on the short-term consequences of our decisions. We can be lazy, easily influenced, scared, and short-sighted decision makers!
There is hope
While technology has certainly contributed to this decision-making conundrum, it is beginning to help us out. Business Intelligence 2.0 solutions are showing promise in their ability to mitigate the bias we introduce to the decision process, while also helping us play to the strengths of having a well-rounded group of co-decision makers. We will unpack how this is playing out in subsequent posts.
We would love to hear from you!
If you are currently using a Business Intelligence 2.0 solution for your decision making needs, how is it helping? Where is it falling short?
If your organization isn’t currently using such a solution, what is stopping you?