116. Making good decisions: Confirmation bias
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By now, we've all heard about confirmation bias, and if you did your homework from the last episode, it'll be really clear to you how it gets in the way of effective decision-making. So, what are we supposed to do about it?

Background music is Of the Stars by KC Roberts & the Live Revolution



Now that you’ve read chapter 1 of Decisive by the Heath Brothers, let’s take some time to talk through what they call the four villains of decision making, starting with confirmation bias. Since you’re interested in corporate governance, chances are this isn’t the first time you’ve heard or read about confirmation bias. The unconscious compulsion to embrace information that supports what you already believe to be true, and to reject information that contradicts what you already believe to be true. Let’s be super, extra, ultra clear here: YOU, no matter who you are or what your perception of yourself might be, DO THOSE THINGS! *YOU* embrace information that supports what you already believe – regardless of whether you are correct – while rejecting information that contradicts what you believe. You aren’t broken. It’s just how people work. And you can already picture how this messes things up when groups – like boards of directors, for example – are trying to make decisions on short timelines and with incomplete information. Add on the fact that even that incomplete information sometimes gets delivered to boards in vast quantities – maybe hundreds and hundreds of pages. How else can we expect directors to synthesize all of it in the process of preparing for a meeting or decision? Confirmation bias gives us a shortcut – pay attention only to the stuff that tells us we’re probably right. If you want advice on managing confirmation bias beyond what you learned in Decisive, a google rabbit hole awaits you. For now, try just re-framing board meetings as an opportunity to try to prove yourself WRONG. It’s way more fun than loudly trying to convince people you’re right, and you’re WAY more likely to learn something from your peers.

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