6 ways to improve decision making during COVID-19

If you are human, you are biased… these are the systematic and predictable mental errors humans make which can lead to irrational behaviours and poor decision making.

Especially, at these times of crisis when we experience stress and uncertainty for future we are likely to make damaging decisions which makes us feel even more un-resourceful.

During COVID-19 decision biases of multiple types seem to be in evident as shown in the attached image as seen amongst all of us at some time or other that impacts us and our families.

Wikipedia lists around 125 decision oriented biases which distort decision making influencing 4 major categories:

  • Inaccurate evaluation of oneself
  • Evaluation of others
  • Evaluation of risks and rewards
  • Tactical evaluation in project implementation

Awareness of our biases is the first step towards solving the problem.

While I write this, I am reminded and saddened by how Iran lost 700 people after consuming Methanol definitely the result of the Bandwagon effect. The fears of the virus coupled with poor education and internet rumours caused this unprecedented event.

So let me tell you 6 ways to be aware and make better decisions:

  1. Recognition and acceptance: Let’s be humble in accepting our biases; as becoming aware is the most critical step to conquer or atleast mitigate their negative effects.
  2. Seek Alternate Sources: To avoid confirmation bias seek out sources that may contradict your biases and that are well supported by respected information sources like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus site, and the World Health Organization’s equivalent site.
  3. Follow announcements from right sources and numerous tools: To avoid bandwagon Instead of following what other people are doing one should follow evidence as expressed in formal protocols, guidelines or recommendations, always based on the highest quality scientific evidence.
  4. Have best intentions instead of hostile intents: To avoid hostile intentions towards others as we don’t know the details of everyone let’s assume the best intentions unless you have firm evidence otherwise.
  5. Try the “vanishing options” test: Once you havea solid option around a decision we usually want to move on, so we fail to explore alternatives that may be superior. To address this problem, assume you can’t choose any of the options you’re weighing and ask, “What else could I do?” This question will trigger an exploration of alternatives.
  6. Think Twice: Always make 2 forecasts and take an average. Research shows that when people think more than once about a problem, they often come at it with a different perspective, adding valuable information by tapping into their inner wisdom and allowing time for reconsideration.

Finally I would like to say that with the fast-changing COVID-19 situation, we may not have enough past data or trustworthy rules to employ automated decisions. We all are in it together and we all need to use the best evidence available regarding how to deal with and avoid biases in identifying and addressing decisions.

If you don’t plan and act, you’ll be aware of the problem without solving it. You’ll end up suffering more compared to if you remained in blissful ignorance. Stay Home..Stay Healthy..Stay Bias Free… Your coach in possibilities always…

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