How to help correct the biases which lead to poor decision making

Research conducted in 1989 by Deborah J. Mitchell, of the Wharton School; Jay Russo, of Cornell; and Nancy Pennington, of the University of Colorado, found that prospective hindsight—imagining that an event has already occurred—increases the ability to correctly identify reasons for future outcomes by 30%. - Harvard Business Review

Successful people are normally optimistic, they can think about how to get past the barrier or the problems, even if they don't actually acheive it when it comes to the actions themselves. Optimism is good. But optimism, especially group-think optimism, can lead to some spectacular disasters.

One of the problems encountered on the journey to reach the team's goals is when the leader is optimistic and he creates a team who are all optimisitic and aligned with his or her goals. Who is going to have the moral courage to stick their hand up and express the counter-position, especially as the time ticks away and they get closer to the...

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Healthcare: Can healthcare learn from the US Forest Service?

The US Forest Service (USFS) operates in a highly dynamic and high-risk environment. Changes can happen which can have catastrophic circumstances if they are not picked up. Unfortunately, sometimes things do go wrong and firefighters die or large amounts of property is lost. However, the USFS recognises that failure is a learning opportunity irrespective of what the outcome was. They also believe that exactly the same circumstances are unlikely to appear again so fixing that exact same problem will have limited impact on operations. However, there are probably other gaps in their safety protocols that need to be identified and fixed and that is the purpose of a Learning Review.

Given that we have so many ‘similar’ accidents, I believe that the same 'learning from failure' mindset should be developed within the healthcare community - that was the motivation for this article.

The US Forest Service (USFS) published a document in 2014* outlining how they undertake...

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I am are biased...we are all biased...!

It might be an obvious statement that we are baised, but it isn't just about the obvious things like which food, music, cars or political party we like, but more importantly how we make decisions in the complex and dynamic environment we live in. When accidents or incidents occur, there are normally biases at play - expectation, over-confidence, outcome bias...and the most prolific after the event, hindsight bias, to name just a few. When something doesn't go to plan, or even when it does, think about the biases or heuristics you were subject to as in many cases we want to reinforce the good stuff, and spot why the adverse situation happened in the manner it did.

Two things to consider

When things go well, try to work out what mental shortcuts you took and whether they could have the potential to bite you.

When things don't go well, think back to why it made sense. Again what mental shortcuts did you take and what cues or clues did you use to line them up? This will help you spot...

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