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The Saboteur in Your Retrospectives: How Your Brain Works Against You @ Indy.Code 2017

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You’ve bought into the Agile process. Your team is grooming its backlog, keeping its work-in-progress low, and focusing on delivering value to the users. But when you all sit down for a retrospective, there’s something working against you - your own brains. Using unconscious shortcuts and hidden heuristics, they can lead your team down a path to the worst result possible: wasting time!
You don’t have to take that lying down - you can fight back! Come learn about how your brain interprets cause and effect, the ways in which it wants to think of things as narratives, and all the tricks it does to save itself from having to think. You’ll learn how to maximize your time as we cover ways to focus your retros on what matters, talk about how to avoid getting trapped in the blame game, and discuss the value of perspectives.

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The Saboteur in Your Retrospectives: How Your Brain Works Against You @ Indy.Code 2017

  1. 1. THE SABOTEUR IN YOUR RETROSPECTIVES How Your Brain Works Against You Arthur Doler @arthurdoler arthurdoler@gmail.com Slides: http://bit.ly/2oyYMwmHandout:
  2. 2. WHY SHOULD WE HAVE RETROSPECTIVES?
  3. 3. To assess the outcomes of the team’s behavior To change that behavior to get better outcomes
  4. 4. WHAT HAPPENED?!
  5. 5. THE BRAIN HAPPENED!
  6. 6. SYSTEM 1 SYSTEM 2
  7. 7. SYSTEM 1 Intuitive Unconscious Associative SYSTEM 2 Cognitive Conscious Linear
  8. 8. PERSONIFYING THE SYSTEMS HELPS US REASON ABOUT THEIR ACTIONS BETTER (THAT’S AGENT BIAS)
  9. 9. SYSTEM 2 (ME)
  10. 10. SYSTEM 1 (NOODLES)
  11. 11. WHY DOES NOODLES EXIST?
  12. 12. SYSTEM 1 Uses less glucose SYSTEM 2 Uses lots of glucose
  13. 13. SYSTEM 2 IS COGNITIVELY LAZY
  14. 14. “I WONDER WHAT THE BEST WAY TO DESIGN THIS CONTROLLER IS.”
  15. 15. IDEA!
  16. 16. I RARELY EVER QUESTION WHAT NOODLES BRINGS ME BUT NOODLES’ WHOLE JOB IS TO BE LAZY
  17. 17. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT NOODLES IS THINKING!!!!
  18. 18. THE LACK OF COMMUNICATION LEADS TO HICCUPS
  19. 19. A bat and a ball cost $1.10. The bat costs one dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
  20. 20. WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT THIS?
  21. 21. YOU CAN NEVER REALLY CONTROL NOODLES! THE ONLY REAL TOOL IS AWARENESS
  22. 22. •Narrative Bias •Attribution Errors oFundamental Attribution Error oGroup Attribution Error oUltimate Attribution Error •Choice-Supportive Bias •Framing and Anchoring Effects •Hindsight Bias •Illusion of Control •Change Bias •Egocentric Bias •Bias Blind Spot
  23. 23. NOW LET’S ACTUALLY GET TO SOME RETROSPECTIVES!
  24. 24. NARRATIVE BIAS
  25. 25. NARRATIVE BIAS
  26. 26. NARRATIVE BIAS
  27. 27. HUMANS DO NOT PROCESS NARRATIVE DATA IN THE SAME WAY WE PROCESS FACTUAL DATA
  28. 28. Fred’s parents arrived late. The caterers were expected soon. Fred was angry.
  29. 29. HUMANS HAVE A STRONG TENDENCY TO APPLY THE POST HOC ERGO PROPTER HOC LOGICAL FALLACY
  30. 30. After spending a day exploring beautiful sights in the crowded streets of New York, Jane discovered that her wallet was missing.
  31. 31. WE SEE CAUSALITY AND STORY EVERYWHERE
  32. 32. HUMANS SEE CONFLICT AS NARRATIVES
  33. 33. WHAT IS NOODLES DOING?
  34. 34. NOODLES’ JOB IS TO MAINTAIN A MODEL OF YOUR WORLD
  35. 35. CAUSALITY HELPS NOODLES FIGURE THINGS OUT
  36. 36. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  37. 37. You are a story that you are telling yourself.
  38. 38. •Recognize that causality is complex •When you ask “Why did X happen?”, avoid stopping at answers that center on a person •Realize that the more distant an effect is from a cause, the less likely it is that Noodles will identify that cause
  39. 39. ATTRIBUTION ERRORS
  40. 40. FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR
  41. 41. “THE INTUITIVE PSYCHOLOGIST AND HIS SHORTCOMINGS: DISTORTIONS IN THE ATTRIBUTION PROCESS”
  42. 42. JONES AND HARRIS, 1967
  43. 43. Test Procedure: 1) Subjects read both pro- and anti-Castro articles 2) Rated the authors on their sentiments about Castro Control Group: Test Group: Not told anything Told the author chose their side based on a coin flip
  44. 44. Control Group: Attributed the opinion of the piece to the author Test Group: Did the same thing!
  45. 45. MY ACTIONS ARE DUE TO MY SURROUNDING CIRCUMSTANCES YOUR ACTIONS ARE DUE TO YOUR INHERENT ATTRIBUTES
  46. 46. WHAT IS NOODLES DOING?
  47. 47. NOODLES THINKS HE’S GOOD AT FIGURING OUT WHY PEOPLE ACT THE WAY THEY DO… HE’S WRONG WE ONLY SEE THEM AND THEIR ACTIONS, NOT THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES
  48. 48. GROUP ATTRIBUTION ERROR TYPE 1 AND TYPE 2
  49. 49. TYPE 1 ANY MEMBER OF A GROUP I AM NOT PART OF IS REPRESENTATIVE OF THAT GROUP
  50. 50. TYPE 2 ALL MEMBERS OF A GROUP AGREE WITH DECISIONS THAT GROUP MAKES
  51. 51. WHAT IS NOODLES DOING?
  52. 52. NOODLES DEALS IN ARCHETYPES HE WORKS WITH SYMBOLS AND CATEGORIES
  53. 53. ULTIMATE ATTRIBUTION ERROR
  54. 54. MY INGROUP’S ACTIONS ARE DUE TO OUR SURROUNDING CIRCUMSTANCES YOUR INGROUP’S ACTIONS ARE DUE TO YOUR INHERENT ATTRIBUTES
  55. 55. YOUR INGROUP’S NEGATIVE ACTIONS ARE DUE TO YOUR INHERENT ATTRIBUTES YOUR INGROUP’S POSITIVE ACTIONS CAN BE EXPLAINED AWAY
  56. 56. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  57. 57. Most types of attribution error deal with outgroups We deal with outgroups daily: •Customers •QA •UX •Managers •Etc…
  58. 58. Everybody has a story they tell themselves about themselves… … and they are (almost) never the villain
  59. 59. •Try to imagine other people’s story. •What do they value? •What do they see as their extenuating circumstances? •Actually go talk to people in your outgroups! •Find common goals and recast them as your ally
  60. 60. FRAMING AND ANCHORING EFFECTS
  61. 61. FRAMING
  62. 62. HOW AN IDEA IS INTRODUCED AFFECTS HOW YOU THINK ABOUT IT (AND THE IDEAS AFTER THAT)
  63. 63. KAHNEMAN AND TVERSKY, 1981
  64. 64. IMAGINE A DEADLY VIRUS AFFECTING 600 PEOPLE
  65. 65. Treatment A: •200 people will live •400 people will die Treatment B: •33% chance everyone will live •66% chance everyone will die
  66. 66. Treatment A Saves 200 lives Treatment B A 33% chance of saving all 600 66% possibility of saving no one Positive Framing Treatment A 400 people will die Treatment B A 33% chance that no people will die, 66% possibility that all 600 will die Negative Framing
  67. 67. 72% of people chose Treatment A when presented with positive framing 78% of people chose Treatment B when presented with negative framing
  68. 68. WHAT IS NOODLES DOING?
  69. 69. NOODLES HATES LOSING! ALSO, NOODLES IS ASSOCIATIVE
  70. 70. ANCHORING
  71. 71. “What is your best guess of the percentage of African nations in the UN?”
  72. 72. Average estimate of people who spun 10: 24% Average estimate of people who spun 65: 45%
  73. 73. WHAT IS NOODLES DOING?
  74. 74. ANCHORING AFFECTS BOTH YOU AND NOODLES
  75. 75. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  76. 76. Avoid anchoring by: •Recording opinions before discussion •Voting on topics to discuss instead of allowing the first topic to come up to dominate •Use secret ballots if necessary (The Lean Coffee techniques are a really huge help here)
  77. 77. Avoid framing by: •Using neutral frames •Using frames that are large enough to encompass the whole picture If all else fails, use multiple frames at once
  78. 78. ILLUSION OF CONTROL
  79. 79. JENKINS AND WARD, 1965
  80. 80. ESTIMATES OF CONTROL BORE NO RELATION TO ACTUAL CONTROL … BUT WERE CORRELATED TO HOW OFTEN “SCORE” LIT UP
  81. 81. CONTROL HEURISTIC You need: 1) An intention to create the outcome 2) A relationship between an action and the outcome
  82. 82. WHAT IS NOODLES DOING?
  83. 83. NOODLES WANTS TO MAKE YOU MORE EFFECTIVE PLUS, NOODLES HATES NOT FEELING IN CONTROL
  84. 84. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  85. 85. Remember that you can only control your own actions… … but maybe not even the primary effects of those actions! … and you can forget secondary effects
  86. 86. HINDSIGHT BIAS
  87. 87. FISCHHOFF AND BEYTH, 1975
  88. 88. 1) The USA will establish a permanent diplomatic mission in Peking, but not grant diplomatic recognition. 2) President Nixon will meet Mao at least once. 3) President Nixon will announce that his trip was successful.
  89. 89. PEOPLE RETROACTIVELY INFLATED THEIR ORIGINAL ESTIMATE OF THE EVENTS THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED
  90. 90. WHAT IS NOODLES DOING?
  91. 91. PLUS, HUMANS ARE BAD AT PROBABILITY
  92. 92. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  93. 93. Record everything! Keep public records of meetings and action items. The more note-taking and note takers the better. Keep telling yourself: “If I’d known it then, I’d have acted on it then.”
  94. 94. EGOCENTRIC BIAS
  95. 95. ROSS, GREENE AND HOUSE, 1977
  96. 96. HOW MANY OF YOUR PEERS WOULD DO THIS?
  97. 97. Those who agreed to do it thought 58.3% would agree Those who did not agree to do it thought 70.3% would not agree
  98. 98. WE TEND TO THINK SOLELY FROM OUR OWN PERSPECTIVE
  99. 99. FALSE CONSENSUS EFFECT
  100. 100. WE TEND TO REMEMBER SOLELY FROM OUR OWN PERSPECTIVE
  101. 101. THINK ABOUT GROUP PROJECTS
  102. 102. WHAT IS NOODLES DOING?
  103. 103. NOODLES INFLATES YOUR ROLE IN EVENTS TO MAKE THEM EASIER TO RECALL
  104. 104. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  105. 105. GIVE PEOPLE A PURPOSE
  106. 106. The stronger your team is – the more they identify with a common goal – the less egocentric bias will matter in the team. The stronger your company is…
  107. 107. INFORMATION BIAS
  108. 108. BARON, BEATTIE AND HERSHEY, 1988
  109. 109. A PATIENT PRESENTS WITH SYMPTOMS AND HISTORY WHICH BOTH SUGGEST GLOBOMA, WITH 80% LIKELIHOOD
  110. 110. You can do an ET scan, which will be: •Positive if the patient has flapemia •Negative if the patient has popitis •Randomly positive or negative if the patient has globoma
  111. 111. SHOULD YOU DO THE ET SCAN OR NOT?
  112. 112. WHAT IS NOODLES DOING?
  113. 113. MORE INFORMATION IS MORE BETTER!
  114. 114. IT’S ALSO A FORM OF PROCRASTINATION
  115. 115. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  116. 116. LEARN A BUNCH OF INFORMATION THEORY!
  117. 117. ... OR JUST TRY THINKING OF IT LIKE A GAME
  118. 118. BIAS BLIND SPOT
  119. 119. BIAS BIAS
  120. 120. ILLUSION OF SUPERIORITY
  121. 121. LAKE WOBEGON “Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."
  122. 122. University of Nebraska faculty survey, 1977 •68% rated themselves in the top 25% •More than 90% rated themselves above average
  123. 123. YOU THINK YOU ARE LESS BIASED THAN YOU ARE … AND I’VE JUST SPENT AN HOUR GIVING YOU JUSTIFICATION FOR THAT
  124. 124. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
  125. 125. Teach your team about biases – then keep each other honest “Bias Buddies™”
  126. 126. LET’S WRAP THIS UP
  127. 127. REMEMBER! YOUR PRIMARY TOOL IS AWARENESS
  128. 128. DO
  129. 129. • Actually talk to other people and find out what they value, and what their external circumstances are. (Narrative Bias, Attribution Errors) • Be empathetic towards other people. (Narrative Bias, Attribution Errors) • Remember that the farther an action is from its effects, the less likely it is that your intuition will connect the dots. (Narrative Bias) • Recast people in your outgroups as your ally. (Attribution Errors, Egocentric Bias) • Record opinions before discussion. (Anchoring and Framing Effects) • Vote on topics to discuss. (Anchoring and Framing Effects) • Focus on the things your team can actually control. (Illusion of Control) • Record your team’s decisions, and what information led you to make them. (Hindsight Bias) • Make sure you and your team know your purpose. (Egocentric Bias) • Build trust in your team and become Bias Buddies™. (Bias Bias)
  130. 130. DON’T
  131. 131. • Be satisfied with explanations of events that blame a person. (Narrative Bias) • Fall prey to the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. (Narrative Bias) • Use frames that are strictly positive or negative when proposing ideas. (Framing Effect) • Try to use complex processes or even your knowledge of biases to manipulate people. (Illusion of Control) • Feel bad because you “should have known” something. (Hindsight Bias) • Procrastinate by continuing to seek more information when you don’t need it. (Information Bias) • Make decisions under pressure! Cognitive load makes you more likely to accept System 1’s output without checking it first. (All
  132. 132. THANKS! Arthur Doler @arthurdoler arthurdoler@gmail.com Slides: http://bit.ly/2oyYMwmHandout:
  133. 133. RESOURCES •Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman •You Are Not So Smart – David McRaney •You Are Now Less Dumb – David
  134. 134. •The Wikipedia list of Cognitive Biases •Chase down the primary sources! A lot of the studies are in PDF format for free! RESOURCES

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