Smoking is injurious to health (Availability Heuristic) Well groomed for the interview (Sterotyping)
It’s impossible for us to logically process every piece of information we receive, so our brain has come up with shortcuts; simpler ways of processing information.
In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman refers to these two types of thinking as System 1 and System 2
There are many different types of cognitive biases – Wikipedia lists well over 100 types of biases
Here are some examples of bias I’ve seen among agile teams, and ways to overcome them:
People don’t consciously decide that they will move toward the anchor, they just do.
Silent writing is an excellent way to allow people to share their individual insights with less likelihood of getting stuck discussing the first topic that is proposed. Sleeping on to it
Unfortunately, the prevailing view is that you can’t do very much about the negative impact of biases. Even Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate and the world’s leading authority on this subject, once stated:
Effect of Cognitive biases in Agile teams
Regional Scrum Gathering Nepal
September 7, 2019
Effect of Cognitive biases in Agile
What is cognitive bias?
• A systematic error in thinking that
impacts one's choices and judgments
• Concept was first proposed by Amos
Tversky and Daniel Kahneman
Causes of cognitive bias
• Impossible for brain to logically process every
piece of information we receive, so it has
come up with shortcuts
• System 1 (fast and intuitive) Vs. System 2
thinking (slow, introducing deliberation and
Cognitive biases affecting the Agile teams
• The Anchoring Problem
• Wikipedia lists well over 100 types of
The Anchoring Problem
• Humans often put too much weight on
the first piece of information they receive
Example: The Anchoring Problem
• If a team is sizing backlog items and somebody says, “I
think it is an 4,” the estimate for that item is much more
likely to cluster around an 4 than if the estimates were
given independently. It is an unconscious act.
• One example to minimize the likelihood of anchoring is to
use Planning Poker to get all backlog item sizes shared at
the same time. In Planning Poker, all estimates are shown
at the same time, thus preventing one person’s perspective
from biasing the initial estimate.
Example: The Anchoring Problem
• Conversations can get anchored, too. The first topic
offered for discussion will anchor the discussion. If you are
facilitating a retrospective, you could un-anchor it by
allowing participants to do some “silent writing.”
• Silent writing is a technique where the facilitator proposes
a topic or question, then gives participants some time to
reflect and capture those reflections on sticky notes. Then,
after having time to get one’s own thoughts captured, the
facilitator asks participants to share their notes.
Can we prevent bias?
• Unfortunately, the prevailing view is that you
can’t do very much about the negative impact
• “I’ve been studying judgment for 45 years, and I’m
no better than when I started. I make extreme
predictions. I’m over-confident. I fall for every one of
the biases.” - Daniel Kahneman, Nobel
So what can we do?
• Personal Self Awareness
• Watch Your Triggers