Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Eliminating Mental Bias (Cognitive) Decision Errors

“The decision made sense at the time. How did we get stuck with such a bad result?”

Good decisions look forward to the future in an unbiased way. However, human decision makers tend to hold to the present and their individual perspective. The unrecognized clash of these two facts often leads to a mediocre decision and poor results.

In order to increase the likelihood of making the best decision in the future, watch for this clash. The first step toward improvement is become aware of these biases. Then, deliberately make an effort to change behavior in order to compensate for them.

Here are five specific examples of mental biases followed with suggestion actions to compensate and help make a better decision.

Examples of holding to the present.

1. Giving disproportionate weight to the first information received.

The initial set of facts, by virtue of their familiarity, tend to be reassuring. Consequently when additional information is received, the new information is evaluated against a higher standard and may not be properly considered. Make the effort to fully value the new information.

2. Favoring choices that allow current conditions to continue.

The status quo also has its familiarity. There is often pressure to continue with the current path. It is important to value the current situation objectively. Question if the current situation, evaluated on its own merits, would be selected now or continued.

3. Favoring choices that justify previous decisions or actions.

There is a tendency to make choices that confirm previous actions, even if the earlier decisions or actions were flawed. This bias can lead to a compounding of errors and a deteriorating situation. It is particularly important to guard against this bias since the negative consequences can be so severe. An opinion from someone not involved in the previous actions can serve to provide objective balance.

Examples of Individual Perspectives.

4. Selecting Confirming Evidence.It is natural to favor information that supports the individual view. It is very easy to ignore, or not fully evaluate, information that does not fit well into one’s perspective. Make the effort to ensure that all the information is being examined fairly. Allow others to fully evaluate all the facts.

5. Asking the decision question in a distorted way.

Very often, the questions leading to a decision are posed in a misleading way that emphasizes one preferred direction. Then, the discussion follows the logical consequences of the biased question. Check to see if the question has been properly formulated in a neutral way and revise if necessary.

It is important to keep in mind that the above five examples of mental bias are simply behavior habits. Such habits only contribute to a poor decision when people are not aware of them. Watch for these tendencies and make adjustments when possible. It is far more rewarding to catch these behaviors as they happen rather than deal with a poor result influenced by mental errors.

Other articles in this series can be found by clicking the Thinking /Perception Skills category in the right box or through the links below:

(2) Use of Working Theories

(3) Listening for Consequences

(4) Put Aside the First Idea

These types of decision errors can often be traced to the tendency to mentally hold on to old ideas that interfere with appropriate responses to the present situation. A different perspective to this type of attachment can be seen in the Zen story Two Monks and a Woman.

Copied from:

Six Thinking Hats - Looking at a Decision from All Points of View

"Six Thinking Hats" is a powerful technique that helps you look at important decisions from a number of different perspectives. It helps you make better decisions by pushing you to move outside your habitual ways of thinking. As such, it helps you understand the full complexity of a decision, and spot issues and opportunities which you might otherwise not notice.

Many successful people think from a very rational, positive viewpoint, and this is part of the reason that they are successful. Often, though, they may fail to look at problems from emotional, intuitive, creative or negative viewpoints. This can mean that they underestimate resistance to change, don't make creative leaps, and fail to make essential contingency plans.

Similarly, pessimists may be excessively defensive, and people used to a very logical approach to problem solving may fail to engage their creativity or listen to their intuition.

If you look at a problem using the Six Thinking Hats technique, then you'll use all of these approaches to develop your best solution. Your decisions and plans will mix ambition, skill in execution, sensitivity, creativity and good contingency planning.

This tool was created by Edward de Bono in his book "6 Thinking Hats".

How to Use the Tool:

To use Six Thinking Hats to improve the quality of your decision-making, look at the decision "wearing" each of the thinking hats in turn.

Each "Thinking Hat" is a different style of thinking. These are explained below:

White Hat:
With this thinking hat, you focus on the data available. Look at the information you have, and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and either try to fill them or take account of them.

This is where you analyze past trends, and try to extrapolate from historical data.

Red Hat:
Wearing the red hat, you look at the decision using intuition, gut reaction, and emotion. Also try to think how other people will react emotionally, and try to understand the intuitive responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.

Black Hat:
When using black hat thinking, look at things pessimistically, cautiously and defensively. Try to see why ideas and approaches might not work. This is important because it highlights the weak points in a plan or course of action. It allows you to eliminate them, alter your approach, or prepare contingency plans to counter problems that arise. Black Hat thinking helps to make your plans tougher and more resilient. It can also help you to spot fatal flaws and risks before you embark on a course of action. Black Hat thinking is one of the real benefits of this technique, as many successful people get so used to thinking positively that often they cannot see problems in advance, leaving them under-prepared for difficulties.

Yellow Hat:
The yellow hat helps you to think positively. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it, and spot the opportunities that arise from it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.

Green Hat:
The Green Hat stands for creativity. This is where you can develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas. A whole range of creativity tools can help you here.

Blue Hat:
The Blue Hat stands for process control. This is the hat worn by people chairing meetings. When running into difficulties because ideas are running dry, they may direct activity into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they will ask for Black Hat thinking, and so on.

You can use Six Thinking Hats in meetings or on your own. In meetings it has the benefit of defusing the disagreements that can happen when people with different thinking styles discuss the same problem.

A similar approach is to look at problems from the point of view of different professionals (e.g. doctors, architects, sales directors) or different customers.


The directors of a property company are looking at whether they should construct a new office building. The economy is doing well, and the amount of vacant office space is reducing sharply. As part of their decision they decide to use the 6 Thinking Hats technique during a planning meeting.

Looking at the problem with the White Hat, they analyze the data they have. They examine the trend in vacant office space, which shows a sharp reduction. They anticipate that by the time the office block would be completed, that there will be a severe shortage of office space. Current government projections show steady economic growth for at least the construction period.

With Red Hat thinking, some of the directors think the proposed building looks quite ugly. While it would be highly cost-effective, they worry that people would not like to work in it.

When they think with the Black Hat, they worry that government projections may be wrong. The economy may be about to enter a 'cyclical downturn', in which case the office building may be empty for a long time.

If the building is not attractive, then companies will choose to work in another better-looking building at the same rent.

With the Yellow Hat, however, if the economy holds up and their projections are correct, the company stands to make a great deal of money.

If they are lucky, maybe they could sell the building before the next downturn, or rent to tenants on long-term leases that will last through any recession.

With Green Hat thinking they consider whether they should change the design to make the building more pleasant. Perhaps they could build prestige offices that people would want to rent in any economic climate. Alternatively, maybe they should invest the money in the short term to buy up property at a low cost when a recession comes.

The Blue Hat has been used by the meeting's Chair to move between the different thinking styles. He or she may have needed to keep other members of the team from switching styles, or from criticizing other peoples' points.

Key points:

Six Thinking Hats is a good technique for looking at the effects of a decision from a number of different points of view.

It allows necessary emotion and skepticism to be brought into what would otherwise be purely rational decisions. It opens up the opportunity for creativity within Decision Making. It also helps, for example, persistently pessimistic people to be positive and creative.

Plans developed using the '6 Thinking Hats' technique are sounder and more resilient than would otherwise be the case. This technique may also help you to avoid public relations mistakes, and spot good reasons not to follow a course of action, before you have committed to it.

Copied from:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kemahiran Berfikir

Kemahiran berfikir adalah suatu ilmu untuk memahami dan menggunakan kekuatan minda manusia dengan lebih optima. Banyak kajian dan penemuan telah diperolehi oleh para pemikir, penyelidik dan pengkaji bidang pemikiran. Di setiap zaman dan tamadun, ramai pemikir-pemikir lahir dan mengenengahkan berbagai idea, teori, falsafah dan penemuan ilmu.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Permata Yang Hilang

Tajuk Permata Yang Hilang telah dibincangkan di satu ceramah di sebuah Sekolah di Johor Bahru. Penceramah telah bertanya kepada para hadirin akan apakah yang dimaksudkan dengan Permata Yang Hilang tersebut? Lantar para hadirin melontarkan beberapa jawapan... antaranya "Generasi Pewaris", "Ketakwaan", "Jatidiri", "Iman"....

Benarkah "permata" yang dimaksudkan itu disedari oleh "pemiliknya" bahawa ianya telah hilang? Ataukah "pemiliknya" tidak tahupun yang "permata" yang dimiliki telah hilang? Ataukah barang yang hilang itu tidakpun pernah dimiliki?

Itulah beberapa kemungkinan persoalan apabila perbincangan tajuk di atas dimulai.

Benar... bagi mereka yang ALlah swt berikan walaupun sedikit kesedaran dan kefahaman Islam, niscaya mereka akan merasai akan kehilangan permata pada dirinya, keluarganya mahupun pada masyarakatnya. Hari ini saban hari dan saban saat kita melihat bahawa ciri-ciri kehilangan permata yang dimaksudkan di atas sememang telah hilang dari pemiliknya iaitu ummat Islam.

.... akan disambung kemudian Insya Allah

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Erti Kehidupan

Ada manusia yang melihat dan melalui kehidupan ini dengan penuh keriangan dan keseronokan. Ada pula sebahagian manusia melalui kehidupan ini dengan segala kepayahan dan kesengsaraan. Namun selagi jantung berdenyut dan nafas bergerak, kehidupan akan terus ditempuhi. Senang mahupun susah, liku-liku kehidupan perlu dilalui sebagaimana berlalunya siang dan malam yang sekali gus menandakan bertambahnya usia dan berkurangnya umur.

Apakah yang menjadikan kehidupan ini bererti selain apa yang kelihatan pada zahir ? Majoriti manusia menyedari bahawa kehidupannya akan berakhir jua suatu ketika nanti. Ramai yang sedar bahawa di sana ada satu Kuasa yang menentukan umur segala makhluk yang hidup.

Hidup adalah hakikatnya suatu 'pinjaman'. Pemilik sebenarnya adalah Allah swt. Oleh yang demikian itu ERTI kehidupan ada pada pemilikNya. Jika sesaorang mengenali pemilik kehdupan tersebut, berkemungkinan besar ia berupaya memastikan erti kehidupan sejajar dengan pemlik Hakikinya.
Pendeknya... kita semua seharusnya berusaha sedaya upaya untuk memastikan kehidupan kita bererti sebagaimana yang dikehendakki oleh ALlah yang memberikan kehidupan kepada kita. WALLAHU'ALAM