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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Making Decisoins Without Blinders On

In the April issue of HBR, an article by James Hackett references something called cognitive blinders. Cognitive blinders "prevent a person from seeing, seeking, using or sharing highly relevant, easily accessible, and readily perceivable information during the decision-making process."

Though the article was about a product launch, this one thing has been the most revelatory piece of information that I've learned in a long time.

I've long since been aware that when in a place when a decision needs to be made quickly, or has significant consequences behind it, the average person's ability to make an effective decision decreases significantly. It's the can't see the forest for the trees analogy. I've often compared it as soldiers in the heat of battle can't see the war. And just as the General used to sit on the hill on his horse to direct the battle, we should each have a General in our life to help us evaluate our decisions when we are in the heat of battle.

Unfortunately, many of us think we are talented enough that we don't need help, or we are ashamed that we will look weak if we ask for help and as a result, we never ask. This isolationist attitude is your quickest way to making a bad decision and it is what has led me to develop a network of people, both personal and professional that I can run scenarios by to get their feedback on so while I'm wearing cognitive blinders they can objectively see what is actually going on.