Bias anchoring

Anchoring is a cognitive bias that describes the tendency people have to rely far too heavily on a single piece of information offered (“the anchor”) when making subsequent decisions. Everything else is interpreted through this lens, and it colours the decisions you make next. Some of the anchors that get set are fine, they are based in facts that are probably useful given your objectives. However, given than there are potentially other anchors that are based on assumptions that may not be as accurate or may change over time, it’s important to reflect on your own personal bias anchors as you move into making decisions about corporate direction and strategy.

Example: When you are bartering with another individual, the initial price becomes the anchor or starting point. Often times, the offered starting point and the counter result in a splitting of the difference, regardless of whether the initial starting point was relevant.

When a car salesman offers a used car for $20,000, this value becomes the basis for subsequent discussion as anything above $20K seems less reasonable, and anything below seems more.

So what assumptions do you have about your performance that is blinding your from seeing your environment as it may truly be today? Do you have the belief that your organization is pretty amazing in a certain way? Does that cause you to disbelieve what your customers are telling you about dis-satisfiers? Do you think a certain team is less effective than it should be. Does the evidence truly support that? Is there something your organization cannot do because of what happened in the past, is that as true today as it was 10 years ago? How do you know?

A few months back, I heard Dr. Michael Treacy say that in some part of their consulting organization, they refuse to engage people who are older than 30 or who have spent any time working within other organizations. This is the concept he was speaking about. Once these frameworks, beliefs, assumptions and biases are built up in your mind, it takes a very conscious efforts to systematically set them aside as see things as you once did.

If you’re not that young fresh mind, have you considered involving some folks that don’t have 20 years of assumptions built into their thinking to help you see the opportunities in your back yard?

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