Risky Business Explained in 150 seconds
Unconscious biases affect all our decisions. This short animation introduces you to eight memorable characters that embody these unconscious biases.
Making decisions can be tough. Making tough decisions in times of unpredictability and uncertainty is even harder. On the one hand we have information overload. On the other, there is often incomplete information. Most of us try hard to make the right calls but grapple with the need for speed; a struggle with sense making and a search for the insights that will impact organisational effectiveness.
It’s possible that suboptimal decisions in your organisation could be costing you money, time and resources and heightening operational risk. Sounds harsh and it is unlikely most leaders will be making sub-optimal decisions intentionally. But errors can slip in ‘under the radar’ and we can often miss vital clues that could have warned us of the consequences of making the wrong call.
How unconscious biases distort our decisions
Why do smart people make poor decisions? The bottom line is that we aren’t as rational as we think we are. A substantial body of academic research has built up over the past 20 years (in behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience) that sheds much light on the way we make decisions. This research offers evidence that all of us can easily fall prey to distortions in our perception of situations – and there are over 100 of these distortions (known as unconscious biases) that can affect our decision making.
You may be asking yourself ‘Is this just psychobabble?’ No, it isn’t. Whether we like it or not, however much we may believe we are objective and rational in our decision making, we aren’t. The evidence is there and the causes are understood.
Awareness of these unconscious thinking errors or biases can help us understand the people dimension operational risk and the mental processes of decision making.
Until recently this compelling research hadn’t been translated into a tool that senior executives can use. Our ground-breaking Hidden R-I-S-K™ framework now offers decision makers a significant breakthrough in working with unconscious bias in decision making because it provides an accessible language to test decisions with.
Take action to mitigate the impact of unconscious thinking errors on decisions
There are seven ways we can help your leaders mitigate the impact of these unconscious biases on decision making:
- Embedding an understanding of the impact of unconscious biases on decisions and risk management
- Coaching leaders so that they are better able to understand their own unconscious biases and take action
- Team Coaching of decision making groups to apply our Hidden R-I-S-K™ framework and ensure that there is greater rigor and due diligence around key decisions that impact operational risk
- Bring greater diversity of voice into key decisions
- Developing a culture where people feel safe to speak out and where all decision makers take mutual accountability
- Reviewing governance for key decisions so that decision making accountabilities are clear
- Addressing organisational people risks
The notion of unconscious bias is increasingly recognised as a useful concept for raising people’s awareness of their blind spots which result in unfairness and blinkered thinking. Yet beyond raising awareness, what has generally been missing to date for organisations seeking to improve diversity and ethical practice is a means of effectively embedding new behaviours. This is where Anna Withers’ research-based practice offers a refreshingly practical, innovative and sustainable approach to bridging the ‘knowing-doing’ gap.
Linda Holbeche, OD & HR thought leader
Let’s work together to help you make better decisions
If you’d like to find out more about the work of unconscious biases on decision making and operational risk, let’s start a conversation to get things moving.