In politics, there is a pledge for any issue you might believe worthwhile to think about. Pledges against gay marriage and for debt ceilings. Against abortion, tax increases, and cuts to Social Security, and for Pro-Life Leadership, a balanced budget amendment and marriage definitions involving various configurations.
But the problem with pledges, at least to a business leader's view of the world, is that they restrict options, block creative thinking or tie's an organization's course to one route.
"Private sector leaders -- the ones who are able to sustain success over the long term -- know that being willing to ask uncomfortable questions, learn the truth, and avoid pre-ordaining the answers, allows them to stay in business and excel," writes Harvard Business School professor and leadership expert Robert Steven Kaplan. "They know that facing reality can cause them to change their minds, and that they must remain open to doing so."
Even though business executives don't have to deal with pledges, there are plenty of other ways they box themselves in, well known decision-making traps that prevent clear analysis and action, such as:
- Anchoring. We tend to give greater weight to the first set of information we encounter on the road to a decision. Anchoring is especially prevalent when the decision-maker is under pressure to act fast.
- Framing. How we perceive a problem colors our decision process. If the glass is half full, thoughtful progress must continue to be made. If half empty, better bear down and get to work immediately.
- Confirmation bias. We look for information that confirms our preliminary thinking.
- Bias toward the status-quo. Change is uncomfortable and risky.
How do you clear your head to make decisions? What factors do you consider?
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