!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Keeping Bias at Bay

Friday, February 20, 2009

Keeping Bias at Bay

Several previous posts have outlined practical steps one can take to counteract any tendency toward bias in decision-making (a tendency that might very well be unconscious).

The most recent useful treatment of this subject that I've come upon is an article in the February 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review in which Andrew Campbell and Jo Whitehead of Ashridge Strategic Management Centre, and Sydney Finkelstein, a professor of management at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, look at sources of bias in business decision-making, how to recognize indicators that bias exists in a particular case, and what to do to counteract the threat of making a biased decision.

The three safeguards Campbell, Whitehead, and Finkelstein recommend, all quite plausible and even predictable, are:
  • Accumulating further experience and/or doing further analysis.

  • Introducing further debate of the issue and potential solutions — to ensure "that biases are confronted explicitly."

  • Imposing stronger governance — i.e., requiring "that a decision be ratified at a higher level... Stronger governance does not eliminate distorted thinking, but it can prevent distortions from leading to a bad outcome."
You can read a fuller treatment of these recommendations in Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions and How to Keep It from Happening to You," a book by Campbell., Whitehead, and Finkelstein that has just been published by Harvard Business Press.


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