Resources_Swae_Harvard_Business_review_Approaches to Solving Problems in the Workplace

Being honest in Leadership roles helps drive Innovation and long-term Success

Doing Decision-Making Right Without Blinders On

23 May 2022 5 min Read

Resources_Swae_Harvard_Business_review_Approaches to Solving Problems in the Workplace

This is a recap of Harvard Business Review’s @HarvardBizDecisions Without Blinders” study.

Being honest in leadership roles seems as if it’s a no-brainer, but as we well know, that’s hardly the case in many organizations around the globe. It may not always be about “not being honest” but there are still many ways that employees of any company, leader or not, can be more cognizant of information seeking when making decisions.

According to this study’s insight, “Social science research has shown that decision-makers ignore certain critical information without realizing it.” Why? Because of something they’ve coined “bounded awareness,” which means the cognitive blinders that prevent a person from seeing, seeking, using, or sharing highly relevant, easily accessible, and readily perceivable information during the decision-making process. The cause can be anything from hiding information to not asking the harder questions.

“ Most people fail to bring the right information into their conscious awareness at the right time.”


The Two Minute Takeaway


Failure to see information

People can get hyper-focused on what needs to be done and shut down their senses and awareness of what’s happening around them. The “head down working” concept seems excellent, but this is how critical details are missed. This is a cause for concern, given that people need to be aware of peripheral threats and opportunities while honing in on the job at hand.

According to this research, this has led to massive problems because those who should be aware closed their minds off. This led to the inability to adapt their strategies so that their organizations could thrive. The outcome then becomes a lack of long-term success due to vital mistakes.


Failure to seek information

The most worrisome version of this occurs when decision-makers are motivated to favor a particular outcome. A failure to seek information means that critical elements are being methodically “left out,” and there’s a deliberate lack of diligent efforts to uncover the “whole story.” However, some situations are innocent because we don’t know what we don’t know. This is why it’s essential to find what lies beyond our very awareness. Consider the information that addresses the decision required and get all the insight possible.
“Executives must rely on others to streamline the data flow for them, but they must be skeptical of the absence of contradictory evidence: It’s a red flag indicating highly bounded awareness.”

Failure to Share Information

Team members frequently fail to share unique information with one another. This is why meetings must have agendas and informational reports from the parties involved in the process of making a decision. Assuming that people will speak up is not, at this time, possible in many workplaces (due to employees not feeling safe to do so, and so much more. We’ve got loads of this kind of research within our resources center here).


Failure to Share Information

Although it may be hard to believe, many executives simply disregard accessible and valuable information when they are making an important decision.

Why This Matters

Remote work is here to stay, so the more tips for remote work that leaders can receive, the better, because of lot of these issues are new to many. Again, not everyone has had remote work environments/hybrid models in place before 2020.

There is going to be a split of how people operate in these remote/hybrid models. Some people can adapt easily and find it more rewarding, and then there will be those that have serious issues separating “being at home” and having to actually DO work at home (emphasis on the fact that they aren’t doing work hardly at all).

Asking questions like the ones shown here in these charts could help you get you ahead of the game when it comes to dealing with issues arising now (versus later). And, this is a time to look to your people to get more ideas as to how to ensure your employees don’t overdo it and end up working way too long not getting proper rest or time away from the computer/phone/whatever other device.

This recap references the Harvard Business Review article Decisions Without Blinders
by Max H. Bazerman and Dolly Chugh

Swae is helping organizations across the world to solve today’s problems and create tomorrow’s strategy. From Start-ups to Charities, and Enterprises to DAOs, our clients find that their greatest resource is their people, and Swae is proven to help get the best from the untapped potential within their workforce.

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