Rather than blame external forces, we can develop a decision-making framework to help combat unconscious bias. Focusing on critical thinking and self-awareness can help you increase your objectivity and take a strategic approach when making decisions.
From educating your team to promoting diverse perspectives, there are a plethora of options for developing a strategic framework for your business.
Define decision criteria and objectives
Creating a defined set of criteria and objectives will help prevent inaccurate judgments and ensure all relevant information is taken into consideration when making decisions. Your team should first determine which factors are most important, depending on the context of the given decision.
After determining the key elements such as cost, time, quality, etc., prioritize them based on the highest relevance and impact. It’s also important to define measurable metrics and benchmarks to objectively evaluate the criteria.
In terms of objectives, your team needs to outline desired outcomes. This helps you evaluate how each key factor will aid you in reaching your ultimate goal. These objectives should also be defined from multiple perspectives to ensure you have a well-rounded view of everyone impacted by the decision. This will ultimately enable decision-makers to align choices with the desired outcomes.
Collect and evaluate relevant data
Good decisions are based on collecting and utilizing new data and existing research. Avoid taking mental shortcuts and instead focus on leveraging relevant data. To avoid cognitive bias, identify your data needs and consider what relevant information will help you make more informed decisions.
Consider different types of data ranging from quantitative to qualitative, internal to external. Once you’ve gathered relevant data, use various analytic tools such as statistical analysis or data visualization to interpret and evaluate your findings.
Evaluating data provides a systematic and robust approach to making well-informed decisions. The more data you gather to support your decisions, the better you can avoid ignoring relevant information or making other mental mistakes.
Consider multiple scenarios and possibilities
Another aspect of developing a sound framework for making decisions is exploring multiple scenarios. Cognitive bias can lead to making quick and uninformed decisions.
For example, optimism bias can lead you to become overly optimistic about positive outcomes, causing you to ignore the likelihood of a negative event or outcome. Just like with confirmation bias, if you don’t consider all potential outcomes, you won’t be able to make a pragmatic decision.
Considering multiple scenarios and possibilities allows you to evaluate various outcomes and perceive potential risks or challenges. Seeking a more balanced view helps to make more realistic decisions which will ultimately lead to improved outcomes. Developing case studies is an effective way to evaluate different scenarios from past experiences.
There are numerous tools and techniques for overcoming cognitive biases. Implement these tools in your business to help teams become better equipped when making critical decisions:
- Cost-benefit analysis: Assess the potential costs and benefits of the decision or project. Giving monetary value to various advantages provides decision-makers with a deeper understanding of the financial implications of their choices. Considering the various costs and benefits provides perspective and helps teams reevaluate the steps needed to reach their goals.
- Scenario analysis: As mentioned previously, it’s vital to consider various scenarios before making a decision. This technique involves analyzing diverse hypothetical scenarios to help decision-makers visualize the impact of their decisions in different circumstances.
- SWOT analysis: This framework requires evaluating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This is a common strategy used for evaluating internal and external factors and helps provide a holistic view surrounding the decision at hand.
- Decision matrix: This tool is used to compare options based on various criteria. Simply create a table with all potential options listed in rows next to relevant criteria. Give each option a score based on their performance against each criterion. This scoring system indicates which options have the highest potential of success related to each criterion.
Implementing effective strategies to reduce cognitive biases
Cognitive bias is the brain attempting to create mental shortcuts for making decisions quickly and efficiently. One way to combat cognitive bias is to slow down your thinking and take ample time to consider all possible options. We make hundreds of decisions every day, most of which without giving a second thought.
However, making decisions in business should be done deliberately and with care. Business decisions can have huge repercussions and lasting consequences so it’s crucial to go through options methodically. Slow down and ensure you are thinking rationally and calmly when making decisions.
Another effective strategy for reducing cognitive bias is conducting a pre-mortem analysis. This strategy involves identifying potential risks, failures, or weaknesses before making a decision.
Imagine a future scenario in which your project fails and then work backward step by step to discover what could potentially lead to failure. This method allows the team to proactively identify potential problems and make adjustments to the plan before making critical decisions.
Similarly, you should place heavy emphasis on critical thinking and rationality. Question your assumptions and cognitive biases. Human thinking is always impacted by personal beliefs and experiences. Self-reflection helps you identify cognitive biases and evaluate how your beliefs, experiences, and preconceived notions influence your judgment and decision-making.
Promoting a culture of psychological safety is key to reducing cognitive bias in the workplace. Fostering an environment of open communication enables your team to feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, experiences, and concerns. The more open and collaborative your work environment is, the better you can avoid cognitive bias.
It’s important to foster trust and respect, encourage active participation, embrace constructive criticism, and acknowledge and learn from mistakes. Establishing channels for open communication encourages transparency and collaboration in the workplace.
The role of diverse perspectives and external feedback in identifying biases
It’s not always easy to identify cognitive biases and the impact they have on business decisions. However, understanding diverse perspectives and remaining open to consistent external feedback helps us continually reflect and overcome cognitive bias.
Gathering audience insights and customer data is another effective approach for identifying cognitive bias. Understanding customer perspectives and experiences provides insight into how you should develop and innovate your marketing strategies.
Smart decisions will lead your company to success. Understanding how to make decisions while avoiding cognitive bias and incorporating diverse perspectives will set your company apart. Discover Mailchimp resources to help your business thrive with everything from A/B testing to the Customer Journey Builder and more!