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Wednesday 3a-cohenno

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Trees & Utilities 2017

Published in: Environment
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Wednesday 3a-cohenno

  1. 1. Human Performance: Mental Traps that Decrease Safety Common biases and mitigation strategies 1
  2. 2. Why do we do the very things we know can lead to injury or death? People don’t plan injury or death…. 1. Unconscious Assumptions 2. Problematic Moods 3. Emotional Distractions 4. Cognitive Bias 2
  3. 3. Unconscious Assumptions •Beliefs and internalized truths we hold about how the world works, how we work, and how people respond to us. •They are assumptions that make hidden commitment feel necessary •If you want something done right, do it yourself 3
  4. 4. Problematic Moods •Constructive Mood States – grateful, resourceful •Destructive Mood States – critical, harsh •Influenced by weather, eating, sleeping, exercise •Duration – minutes, hours or days 4
  5. 5. Emotional Distractions •Short lived feels from known source •¼ second to identify trigger •¼ second to release chemicals •Lasts six seconds, then evolves to feelings 5
  6. 6. Bias •Shortcuts to help us make quick, efficient judgements and decisions •They impact every decision we make •Save time and energy, but blind us to new information and inhibit a broad range of options 6
  7. 7. When bias is most likely to occur •Information overload •Gap in meaning •Need to act fast •When choosing what to remember 7
  8. 8. Information overload • We bias things that are active in short-term memory •We notice when something has changed • We’re drawn to details that confirm our current beliefs • We notice flaws in others more easily than in ourselves 8
  9. 9. Gap in meaning •We make up stories even with sparse data •We presume characteristics from stereotypes, generalities, and prior history •We favor people and things we know rather than things we are less familiar with •We think we know what others are thinking 9
  10. 10. Need to act fast •We favor the immediate and relatable over the delayed and distant •We are motivated to continue if we’ve invested time and energy •We favor simple, complete options more than complex, ambiguous options 10
  11. 11. Determining what to remember •We edit and reinforce some memories after the fact •We discard specifics to form generalities •We reduce events and lists to their key elements •We store memories differently based on how they were experienced 11
  12. 12. Summary of Bias Domains 1. Information overload is painful, so we aggressively filter. 2. Lack of meaning is confusing, so we fill in the gaps. 3. Want to act fast, so we jump to conclusions. 4. Remembering takes energy, so we just remember the important parts. 12
  13. 13. What is the downside to bias? •We don’t see everything we should •We form unhelpful delusions and illusions •Our quick decisions can be seriously flawed •Our memory reinforces errors 13
  14. 14. Current realities make bias more risky •Complex problems require complex solutions •Changing technology requires evolving rules of thumb •Competitive business demands speedy decision- making 14
  15. 15. How do we compensate for bias? 1. Accept that people don’t acknowledge their biases 2. Identify situations when bias is likely to occur 3. Mitigate by seeking outside, objective perspective 15
  16. 16. Step #1: Accept 1. We all have a bias blind spot 2. “I always think I’m right, but I don’t think I’m always right” 3. Bias is perpetuated and rarely recognized or managed 16
  17. 17. Why is it so hard to acknowledge bias? Because it feels good to be right! It feels bad to be wrong (painful, distressing) Seek out reward and avoid pain These two principles are why we are susceptible to unconscious bias and so difficult to overcome 17
  18. 18. Step #2: Identify •When we experience… •Information overload •A gap in meaning •A need to act fast •A lot to learn and remember bias is likely to occur. 18
  19. 19. Step #3: Mitigate •Active process to compensate for bias in decision making •No individual solution •Intelligence, experience, and expertise do not make you less biased 19
  20. 20. Mitigation strategies •Recognize what you have in common with others •Solicit opposing or conflicting views •Get objective outside opinions •Take a break, come back with fresh eyes 20
  21. 21. Mitigation strategies (cont’d) •Compensate for differences in distance, time, and ownership •Pretend you are making the decision for someone else •Foster a culture that assumes/accepts bias •Value success more than being right 21
  22. 22. Mental Review Checklist •Am I holding an uncritical assumption about this situation? •Am I in a problematic bad or great mood? •Am I ruminating on an emotional reaction that occurred prior to work? •Is this a bias likely situation? If so, which one? 22
  23. 23. Three Things You Can Do Tomorrow 1. Analyze data to identify bias likely situations 2. Conduct Supervisor / Manager training to understand mental distractions 3. Share mental distractions and mitigations with employees 23
  24. 24. 24
  25. 25. Tom Cohenno, Ed.D., Principal tom.cohenno@appliedlearningscience.com 1-833-365-1946 Attributions: 1. Breaking Bias Updated: The SEEDS Model (Neuroleadership Journal) 2. Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet (www.betterhumans.com) 3. The Immunity Map Worksheet (

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