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Our job is all about paying attention to certain insights, signals, and trends. That includes disregarding or prioritizing data over others, correctly interpreting information to reach the right conclusions, and using it all to help our Clients make decisions about their business’s future.

We all tend to have all sorts of cognitive and emotional biases in our thinking process. While speaking about foresight these are flaws and prejudices in our mental models. And these biases apply to every (every!) business leader, innovation manager, and trend hunter.

Let’s put it another way – there’s no business leader, manager, or foresight practitioner who is consistently rational (that applies to me and to you too). What can I say… we don’t live in a perfect world. With that being said, it’s crucial for everyone to recognize that biases are with us every step of the way. Our biases are when we spot future trends, interpret them, when we create, build strategies and make any business decisions.

Emotional-cognitive biases influence the way in which we selectively search for and interpret data individually and in groups, and how we feel about that data. Some biases affect how we formulate beliefs, reason, make decisions, and behave in general while other biases enhance or impair our ability to recall.

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    The most common cognitive biases

    We want to share a few examples of the biases that are experienced by us and our Client’s teams.

    1. Information biases.

    Information can be assessed as relevant solely on the basis that it is already known, whereas unknown alternatives might be wrongly found as irrelevant.

    2. End-of-history illusion bias.

    The present is seen as stable. The future is expected to be a linear continuation.

    3. Groupthink bias.

    Self-censoring of opposing opinions within a group.

    4. Optimistic bias.

    Underestimation of the probability of unpleasant events is a popular mistake. We want to believe in pleasant alternative futures only.

    5. Confirmation bias.

    Insights are selectively perceived, remembered and interpreted according to someone’s expectations.

    6. Ambiguity aversion.

    Choosing alternatives with secure outcomes over strategies with uncertain outcomes. The easy way is not always the best way to go.

    7. Hindsight bias.

    There is a strong tendency to see past events as predictable and unavoidable.

    And as we cannot entirely avoid cognitive-emotional biases when thinking and planning for the future, we can become aware of the biases we display, keep them in check and minimize their negative impact.

    Remember, foresight feeds business decisions, such as strategy building and business development. To ensure diversity of ideas and opinions in decision-making, and to avoid the self-censoring of opposing opinions and the escalation of commitment you can adopt a wider lens to collect insights, and signals, and utilize several sources of data – qualitative and quantitative.

    Inviting people to discuss, vote, and evaluate insights and trends can be a great step too. Remember to provide time and space for authentic insights to arise.

    Don’t forget about building trend maps and scenarios that can help to portray alternatives for the future and to make connections between future developments or uncertainties. To do so you can invite subject-matter experts. Use their experience to evaluate the trends, technologies, strategies, and key uncertainties.

    Share their analysis publicly and transparently for open discussion with customers, suppliers, partners and teams. Don’t let great insights die in the drawer.

    Last word

    Biases cannot be simply removed from our thinking processes, but they can be recognized and, to a certain extent, overcome.

    No one is consistently rational. No matter the position, or experience.

    More on embracing innovation

    Thanks for reading!

    Learn more about embracing innovation and creating meaningful impact with our free call. Simply leave an email address. Our consultant will contact you to schedule a call at the time that suits you best.

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      Patrycja Franczak

      Author Patrycja Franczak

      She runs company where she cooperates with many fashion companies helping them to strategically define, move toward and manage the future amid the challenges of uncertainty and change - to improve business performance and manage change.

      More posts by Patrycja Franczak

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