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Effect of Cognitive biases in Agile teams

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Session at Regional Scrum Gathering Nepal 2019

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Effect of Cognitive biases in Agile teams

  1. 1. Pramesh Vaidya Regional Scrum Gathering Nepal September 7, 2019 Effect of Cognitive biases in Agile teams
  2. 2. What is cognitive bias?
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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 logic)
  5. 5. Cognitive biases affecting the Agile teams • The Anchoring Problem • Wikipedia lists well over 100 types of biases
  6. 6. The Anchoring Problem • Humans often put too much weight on the first piece of information they receive
  7. 7. 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.
  8. 8. 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.
  9. 9. Can we prevent bias? • Unfortunately, the prevailing view is that you can’t do very much about the negative impact of biases • “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 laureate
  10. 10. So what can we do? • Personal Self Awareness • Watch Your Triggers • Experiment
  11. 11. Thank You

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