The Science of Fearless Decision Making

The Science of Fearless Decision Making

The greatest fear when faced with difficult choices is the daunting and, at times, overwhelming sense we could be wrong. This is especially the case in an age of increasing misinformation, polarization of views and exponential technological growth. We’re bombarded daily with opaque, inconsistent, contradictory and politically partisan ideologies that swamp, confuse and even anger us. With our access to vast universes of data, we are forced to figure out what facts we should base our decisions on, what questions we need to ask, how to find the right experts and which ones we can trust on what particular topics. Given all these forces, how do we make optimal choices and prevent unintended consequences under conditions of uncertainty?

In business (and in life), we’re accountable for the decisions we make. Our decisions reflect who we are and the world in which we want to live. While we often think a decision gone wrong is just bad luck or misfortune, it’s usually the result of poor decision-making skills. No one is born with this essential capability; it’s learned by trial and error. While we like to think we resolve our problems sensibly and logically, decision making is largely an emotional process of evaluating disparate trade-offs – rarely is it governed by reason alone. And when our beliefs and values guide our choices, we seem less troubled by the risks. The best decision makers know what questions to ask, what tools to use and how to make intelligent bets.

Real-world decision making is informed by data selection, an awareness of the caveats, an understanding of the right tools and an appreciation of mathematical principles. But, inevitably, our innate biases, thinking traps and logical presumptions result in poor judgments. Science can tell us how to estimate probabilities but not what decision thresholds we can use with confidence. We need to reconcile the unavoidable tensions between how much information we should collect, the four critical dimensions of risk assessment, the pressure to be decisive and move forward, and the mounting expectations of significant stakeholders.

Topics include:
❏  Judgement: Why we make so many poor decisions
❏  The batting average of successful decision makers
❏  Flaws that cause decision makers a short job tenure
❏  Simplification vs. complexity: Old-word vs. new world
❏  Diagnostic tools: Systems thinking & scenario planning
❏  Seeing, defining and prioritizing “the bigger picture”
❏  Assembling and leading the right decision-making team
❏  The bubble of ignorance and iceberg of innocence
❏  Dealing with the fatal flaws that derail decision making
❏  A dictionary of cognitive biases that impair the process
❏  The essential ingredients for achieving optimal outcomes
❏  Principles of counterfactual and probabilistic thinking
❏  The influence of diversity, trust, safety and inclusion
❏  Detecting and discerning the signals from the noise
❏  The minimal threshold of evidence needed to decide
❏  Decision-making tools: The trade-offs & consequences
❏  Getting good advice: Caveats, options and questions
❏  Pareidolia: Finding the signals buried amidst the noise
❏  Case studies: Crisis decision making – what would you do?
❏  Risk tolerance and assessment: De-risking and reframing
❏  Improving decision outcomes: The questions you must ask
❏  What to do when you’re not sure what you should do

Includes a 45 page Pre-course Workbook of tasks and supplemental notes.