Justin Hughes a former Red Arrow pilot was one of our inspirational speakers at at our World Class Leadership Summit in Islington. Justin discusses why leaders struggle to make decisions in the face of ambiguity and how to improve the quality of your decision making.
What they did an awful lot, very basic experiments and work, and founded that we are really rubbish at making decisions in the face of ambiguity. We have all sorts of cognitive biases and we have actually have quite high confidence in our decisions and they’re generally rubbish. And he did this with a lot of professional groups – cancer doctors, statisticians, economists, and was quite easily able to put them into situations and give them questions that they really should have known better and they consistently got wrong. And what he realised is that, you know, when we get where we get wedded to our own brilliance, we’re blind to the obvious know if we’ve got skin in the game we came up with a plan we think it’s a great plan. We’re quite defensive about anybody pushing back on it. We don’t recognise that you know you know I’ll give you some examples of defensives later on but we don’t recognise there our plan is probably completely imperfect, we don’t recognise the assumptions in it, all the stuff that’s going on here. The CIA have done some great research on this and what they found was that there were three things that improve the quality of a decision and they’re talking here about an intelligence analysis but effectively it’s a recommendation, you’re taking a load of ambiguous data, making the recommendation, what should we do? They found there are three things that will influence that. More data; a better methodology; the way we think about the problem. Which one of those do you think makes the biggest difference. More data? Better methodology? So the answer, I’m kind of leading you to an obvious solution on this, but more data makes almost no, there’s a hygiene level, you need a minimum level of data below which you‘re just flying in the dark.