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Are these hidden traps causing your team to make poor decisions?

Uncover these errors in thinking before they become disasters in judgment.

by Dave Osgood, Senior Partner

Making sound decisions may be the most important responsibility of a leader. Yet even experienced managers are susceptible to faulty thinking that leads to poor decision making. Cognitive science confirms the way our brain functions can set us up for making poor judgments. These faulty judgments are the result of cognitive bias.

Bias – a distortion that affects judgment – can quickly cause good decision thinking to go bad.


While the complete list of cognitive biases is long, we’ve discovered ten traps that are particular threats to sound decision making. In our work with leaders and managers, these are the 10 decision traps we most frequently observe:


  1. Confirmation bias — tendency to focus on information that supports what one already believes, while ignoring facts that go against those beliefs, despite their relevance.

  2. Status quo bias — favoring alternatives that perpetuate the status quo.

  3. Recency bias — tendency to place too much attention on more recent information and either ignore or forget more distant information.

  4. Source credibility bias — rejecting something if we have a bias against the person, organization, or group to which the person belongs.

  5. Anchoring bias — decisions are unduly influenced by initial information, which then distorts our view of subsequent information.

  6. Groupthink — peer pressure to conform to the opinions held by the group.

  7. Loss aversion bias — tendency for people and groups to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains.

  8. Focusing bias — tendency to place too much importance on one aspect of a decision and placing too little value on other salient factors.

  9. False consensus bias — tendency for people and groups to overestimate the degree to which others will agree with them.

  10. Illusion of control bias — tendency for groups to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes that they clearly cannot.


What makes all these traps so dangerous is their invisibility. Because they are hardwired into our thinking process, we fail to recognize them—even as we fall right into them. And the higher the stakes, the more likely we will fall victim to these destructive habits.


Scan the list again. Which traps do you see most often in your workplace?


The good news: Although we can’t eliminate these biases, there are effective strategies to minimize their impact. The first step is to acknowledge they exist and that they are real threats. Second, choose a decision-making process that uncovers errors in thinking before they become disasters in judgment. The process should allow you to accurately assess the decision situation, apply sound reasoning and logic to the analysis, be visible and easy to communicate.


Where to start? Decision Focus.

Decision Focus® is a systematic process for problem solving and decision making that’s based on sound critical thinking principles.


In our unique workshop, participants learn and apply these tools to real situations, problems, and decisions they currently face. The impact of these skills for your organization? A more rational approach to decisions and judgments, and less bias.


“I really enjoyed the Decision Focus session yesterday and look forward to adding the tool to my arsenal of efficiencies.”

- Manager of Operations


Ready to make great decisions in 2020? Schedule a demo to learn more, or take advantage of our special offer: Book your in-house Decision Focus class before December 31, 2019 and get 5 participants' tuition for free. Email help@focustools.com to schedule your session!

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Join the community of organizations who have built their leaders, teams, employees with FOCUS tools. 

Join the community of organizations who have built their leaders, teams, employees with FOCUS tools. 

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