Secure your strategic decisions

N°246b – Synopsis (8p.) – Decision Making
Secure your strategic decisions
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Many decision-making errors derive from reflexes that lead to form a truncated view of reality. How can we avoid this risk? By engaging in debate that allows us to confront different viewpoints.

Why is making good decisions so difficult? A McKinsey study shows that most top executives feel that their company makes as many bad as good strategic decisions! Is the incompetence of the people in place to blame?

Actually, the reason is largely that we are convinced that we can make decisions rationally, as long as we are sufficiently informed. However, cognitive and behavioral science research conducted over the past thirty years shows that this is not at all the case. Individuals and groups are subject to many biases that alter their ability to apprehend reality objectively. Our decisions are thus irrational. For example, scientists have shown that we pay disproportionate attention to information that confirms our opinions, at the expense of that which contradicts them. Thus, in a changing environment, we continue to reason according to an obsolete view of the situation. This phenomenon is unconscious: it is caused by the way our brain processes data even before we begin to consciously deal with an issue. It occurs regardless of individual competence or intelligence and cannot be avoided even with the most careful preparation. Moreover, just like many other biases, it is practically impossible to eliminate. Researchers have shown that even if we are fully aware of the unconscious mechanisms likely to trap us, we cannot correct their effects on our own.

Should we conclude that we are doomed to a significant margin of error in our decisions? Yes, and no. We must accept the idea that our personal assessment of situations is necessarily erroneous in part. At the same time, we can rely on the power of collective intelligence to limit the impact of our errors in judgment. The best antidote is indeed open debate, organized to take account of different points of view. By placing ourselves in a situation where we must challenge our convictions, to the extent that we are willing to admit we may be wrong, we considerably reduce the risk of being blinded by a biased perception of the situation.

In this synopsis:
- Organize successful strategic debate meetings
- Combat biased thinking throughout the decision-making process
- Regularly optimize the decision-making process

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