This is the second email in this 10 part series on the Heath Bros. great book “Decisive*. In the first series, we got rather sobering news about how bad humans are at decision making. And I promised an overview of a technology that can help us. Here it comes!
Ok – if we were going to build this technology, the first step would be to ask why are humans so bad at decision making? According to the Heath Bros. there are at least 4 reasons.
1. We have a natural tendency to frame decisions too narrowly (this or that) and so we often create “false choices”.
2. When we find options, we often fall victim to “confirmation bias” – meaning we trust the data that we want to believe.
3. When we decide, we often make choices based on short term emotion that blinds us to the bigger picture — and especially the long term consequences of what we decide.
4. After we decide, we go back to sleep – We are overconfident in our ability to predict the results of what we decide so we are often caught off guard by what happens next – both more success than we expected and failure.
Notice that these weaknesses affect each stage of the process from looking for options (step 1) to living with our decision (step 4). So we can and should look at each stage separately and device technologies that help us overcome the weakness that holds us back at that point. As needed, we can use technologies that address all four of our weaknesses.
The Heath bros. have devised a process that protects us from each of the above. It is called “WRAP”. The letters stand for the following
1. “W” for Widen your options.
If our tendency is to accept narrow frameworks, we need tools that open the door for us to seeing more options
2. “R” for Reality test your assumptions
If we are biased in evaluating the options that we have, we need tools that re-balance what is in front of us.
3. “A” for Attain distance from emotions
If we tend to be overcome by short term emotion, we need tools that help us calm down and see farther into the future
4. “P” – for Prepare to be wrong
If we tend to go to sleep when we decide, overconfident that our decisions are right, we need tools that sound the alarm later when things start going wrong – and to be ready if they go more right than we thought they would.
For each of the above, the Heath Bros. offer practical steps that you can take to help make better decisions. And hold on to your hats, over the next 8 emails, we will take a look at each one.
Next up, we look at the “W” – widening options. I found this to be more challenging than I thought it would be. Let’s see if you agree!