A recent post shared insights into the pitfall of confirmation bias, which is the tendency to pursue and embrace information that matches our existing beliefs.
Here are four questions that might help you surface biases or preconceptions that could impact the quality of the thinking processes that convert the information you have gathered into a lasting breakthrough solution:
- Did you have this idea as you began your analysis of the current situation? If so, maybe your thinking process was affected by theory-blindness, which is similar to confirmation bias. Theory-blindness is the tendency we all have to give disproportionate weight to evidence and testimony supporting our preconception and an unconscious inclination to discount or miss entirely evidence that refutes the theory.
- Are you under the influence of the experience trap? This occurs when we think, “I’ve seen this before and here’s the solution that worked before, so that’s what we should do now.” Often a solution that succeeded in one place at one time produces very different results when the circumstances have changed. We can work to overcome this bias to arrive at an even better solution by noticing this is at the heart of our thinking process.
- Could our judgment be influenced by the availability bias? The term describes a tendency to base judgments on how quickly and easily something comes to mind. If an event happened recently, or if we were personally affected by a type of event, we are likely to over-estimate its frequency or importance. If we have never experienced a type of event, our bias is to underestimate its occurrence. If we are aware of this bias, and are careful to compensate for it with data, we improve our thinking process and the likelihood of arriving at a good outcome.
- Have we fallen in love with our first idea? We tend to have a powerful urge to stick with the first idea that comes to us, focusing on what’s right about it rather than its flaws. Our attachment to our first idea can keep us from surfacing better alternatives. Or, as French philosopher Émile Chartier (Alain) said, “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it’s the only one we have!”
As we work through the improvement process, we will be most successful if we carefully and objectively evaluate and continually improve the thinking processes we use to convert the facts and data into the best solution.