5 everyday tricks to beat bias

Forewarned is forearmed.

by Bill Borrows
Last Updated: 05 Mar 2020

In an increasingly automated world, there’s still nothing that can recreate the emotional and creative power of the billions of neurons, synapses and cells that make up the human brain. It’s why organisations continue to spend significant time and money bringing them together. 

But, like the most engineered of machines, the brain has its flaws. It’s prone to trip up on pre-held assumptions, favour the view of the majority or be attracted to thought processes that mirror its own. 

One of the reasons we succumb to cognitive biases, such as ‘affinity bias’ (favouring people who are more like ourselves), is because we are either unaware of them or don’t have the time to think about them. That’s why we compiled a list of bias busting tips you can consume in a minute.

Don’t always listen to your brain

You can’t very well ignore it, but understand that to err is human. Be wise to when your brain could be telling you something only to soothe your ego or because it’s easier than trying something new.

Do your research 

If the data is screaming something at odds with your instincts, then to proceed without due diligence is madness.You might be right, but try to evaluate the consequences if you’re not. Forewarned is forearmed.

Take a step back 

Reflect on your thinking processes and what might be influencing your decisions. Consider alternative solutions and consult colleagues where appropriate.

Learn from your mistakes 

It could be a question of short-term pain for long-term gain. As long as you learn from it, ‘regret aversion’ can be a positive bias if the fear of repeating a mistake prevents it from happening again.

The thing about cognitive bias… 

Is that you can be sure it’s not just your brain that is trying to take shortcuts. So are the brains of your customers and rivals. Use that knowledge to gratify the former and frustrate the latter.

For a more comprehensive guide to the cognitive biases that could derail your decision making, read this piece.

This piece first appeared in Management Today’s December 2019 print edition. 


Image credit: FRED TANNEAU / Contributor via Getty Images


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