Topic: Cognitive Biases and Workplace Decision-Making
Date: May 21, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Location: Portland Country Club, Falmouth, ME
Speaker: Rick Brenner
Abstract: For most of us, making decisions is a large part of what we do at work. Some people are called "decision makers" and they do indeed make decisions. But what many don't realize is that the rest of us make decisions constantly — and these decisions do matter. When you're choosing a name for a variable or subroutine while writing a program, or choosing your words while talking to a customer, or participating in a debate at a meeting, or writing an agenda or invitation list for a meeting, or even deciding what to do next, you're making decisions.
We tend to believe that, for the most part, we make our decisions rationally. We'll admit that when stressed or hurried, we might not make our most rational decisions, but otherwise, we decide rationally.
That is a mistaken belief.
Very few of our decisions are purely rational. Almost all decisions are subject to a range of non-rational influences that psychologists call cognitive biases. They affect the quality of our decisions, and most of the time, we're unaware of their influence.
In this eye-opening yet entertaining program, Rick Brenner serves as a guide through the fascinating world of cognitive biases. He'll introduce the concept and survey some of the more common cognitive biases, showing how they can affect the decisions we make at work. And most important, he'll give concrete tips to help you control the influence of cognitive biases on those decisions.
After you're introduced to this vital and still-growing field of knowledge, you'll have more awareness of the limitations of your decision-making practices. You'll learn how to improve them by dealing with the effects of cognitive biases, and you'll learn how to structure group decision-making to improve the quality of decisions your teams make.
This program helps people who make decisions. As it turns out, that's just about everyone in the knowledge-oriented workplace. Participants learn:
- What differentiates cognitive biases from bigotry
- How some specific cognitive biases are defined, how they distort decisions, and what can be done to avoid that distortion
- How to recognize what kinds of decisions are susceptible to which cognitive biases
- How cognitive biases affect group decisions
- How to check for cognitive biases
- How to distinguish cognitive biases from groupthink
- How to organize the "cognitive bias zoo"
- How to recognize the devious uses of cognitive biases for manipulating decisions
- How to prevent manipulative use (abuse) of cognitive biases
Participants learn to appreciate the true challenges of dealing with cognitive biases. Most important, they learn strategies and tactics for limiting their effects, or, having discovered that a cognitive bias might be playing a role, how to intervene to enhance decision quality.
Rick Brenner is a coach, author, speaker and Principal at Chaco Canyon Consulting. He has more than 15 years of experience working with organizations that are developing complex products or services in markets so fast-moving that to succeed, their people need state-of-the art teamwork. His principle focus is on improving personal and organizational effectiveness. He has extensive expertise in abnormal situations, such as technical emergencies, understaffed and highly fluid organizations, and high-pressure project situations.
Trained originally in electrical engineering and theoretical physics, he holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a former software engineer and entrepreneur. He worked in the computer industry and in defense systems for 15 years, as an engineer, an engineering manager, and a project manager. Towards the end of that time, while researching advanced software development environments under a U.S. Department of Defense contract, he concluded that engineers could probably do as much to increase project productivity by improving how they work together as they could by inventing new technologies. This conclusion led him to spend several years of independent study of the interaction of technical and human issues and organizational change which culminated in his emphasis on providing training and consulting to executives and to project groups in dynamic companies, where success depends on high performance.