Olivier Sibony is a former McKinsey senior partner and a professor at the French business school HEC. He is a behavioral economy enthousiast with a focus on decision biases. Here is an English synthesis of his book on the topic. I wrote it for my own purpose and I hope you may find it useful.

Intuition or thinking slow?

Intuition works when someone with experience is placed in a regular environment with predictable outcome and the feedback loop is clear. Whenever the three conditions are not met intuition becomes dangerous. Indeed there is a long list of biases to beware of and are not linked to intelligence or ethics. These biases can be grouped within action, group, interest, inertia, and mental model.

A list of biases to beware of

⁃ Optimism bias, i.e. we tend to believe we will succeed and Darwinism probably made this a condition for survival

⁃ Storytelling bias, i.e. facts seem to make sense together while they are actually random as human beings like to tell themselves stories

⁃ Confirmation bias, i.e. we only consider the facts that go in the sense of what we want to hear

⁃ Champion bias, i.e. we tend to trust an individual supposed to know better

⁃ Experience bias, i.e. we believe events will repeat in the fashion we are used to

⁃ Halo bias, i.e. we assume something is good because it was done by someone who is good at something else

⁃ Solipsism bias, i.e. we forget we have competitors or underestimate them

⁃ Inertia bias, i.e. we tend to take too little risk and delay decisions

⁃ Retrospective bias, i.e. after the events took place we tend to explain why it had to be so

⁃ Certainty bias, i.e. we tend to remove uncertainty from our communication and shun from alternative scenarios

⁃ Short-term bias, i.e. we tend to care more about the present than the future

⁃ Group thinking bias, i.e. it feels safer to be wrong with everybody else than to be right alone

⁃ Self-serving bias, i.e. we tend to act in our own interests even if we claim having a rock solid ethics

⁃ Survivor bias, i.e. we tend to take decisions based on what we can see and what we can see as a selection bias

Fighting agains biases is a collective sport

One cannot erase their own biases and it may actually be counter-productive as most are unconscious. A strong methodology can help nevertheless.

⁃ A decision architect, i.e. someone in charge of the decision process

⁃ Time, i.e. enough time to ponder different solutions and to make the required assessments

⁃ Rules, i.e. forcing everyone to argue in favor and against a decision

⁃ Discord, i.e. people willing to argue several ways

⁃ Tools, e.g., pre-mortem, asking other colleagues to decide based on the facts,

⁃ A decision taker, i.e. someone will have to take the decision and this person should have the facts in favor and against the decision

⁃ Different angles, i.e. viewing the decisions from the client, the regulator or the competitor angle to see the facts differently

⁃ Challenge, e.g., asking consultants, experts, crowd or a different team to argue another way

⁃ Criteria checklist, e.g., having a list of items to verify before the decision is taken

⁃ Fact based analysis, i.e. requiring participants to prove their points and show data

⁃ Tricks, e.g., pushing one or several biases on purpose in order to see the situation with a different angle

⁃ Informality, i.e. people need to be willing to talk about the decision and to take the risk to speak up

To make better decisions, small steps can help

⁃ Small decisions, like a venture capital would do

⁃ A/B testing, to ensure the decision will be the best

⁃ Learning from failures, to ensure that failure will also bring something good

The book appendix contains a good checklist

After I had read the book I realized the appendix would make a good checklist synthesis. Thus I copied below the list of biases to beware of:

Modèle mental

⁃ Confirmation

⁃ Storytelling

⁃ Expérience

⁃ Champion

⁃ Attribution

⁃ Rétrospectif

⁃ Halo

⁃ Survivant

Biais d’action

⁃ Optimisme

⁃ Certitude

⁃ Précision

⁃ Oubli des concurrents

Biais d’inertie

⁃ Ancrage

⁃ Inertie d’allocation de ressources

⁃ Statu quo

⁃ Sunk costs

⁃ Aversion à la perte

⁃ Aversion au risque

⁃ Aversion à l’incertitude

Biais de groupe

⁃ Groupthink

⁃ Polarisation

⁃ Ordre des arguments

Biais d’intérêts

⁃ Intérêts personnels

⁃ Présent

⁃ Passif vs. Actif

Liste des actions à favoriser lorsque nous prenons une décision importante :

Orchestrer le dialogue

⁃ Diversité

⁃ Temps

⁃ Eléments pour discussion à l’ordre du jour

⁃ Lire les documents à l’avance

⁃ Bannir le storytelling

⁃ Temps de réflexion à froid obligatoire

⁃ Pas d’opinions tranchées

⁃ Avocats du diable

⁃ Pas de propositions binaires

⁃ Ce que nous ferions si l’option préférée disparaissait

⁃ Histoires alternatives sur les mêmes faits

⁃ Pre-mortem

⁃ Comité de décision distinct (six amigos)

⁃ Date de décision

Favoriser le décentrage

⁃ Personnalités divergentes

⁃ Réseau informel

⁃ Experts

⁃ Consultants à qui on ne donne pas ses hypothèses

⁃ Challenger interne

⁃ Equipe rouge

⁃ War gaming

⁃ Sagesse des foules

⁃ Modélisation

⁃ Analogies structurées

⁃ Routines de remise en cause du statu quo

⁃ Standardisation des formats de présentation

⁃ Critères de décision

⁃ Stress test

⁃ Vue due l’extérieure

Adopter une dynamique de décision agile

⁃ Relations confiantes

⁃ Culture de speak up

⁃ Alignement des intérêts personnels et du collectif

⁃ Apprentissage sans frais

⁃ Tests où l’échec est possible

⁃ Tests contrôlés A/B

⁃ Expérimentation permanents

⁃ Engagements progressifs

⁃ Echecs partagés et communiqués

⁃ Capacité.à changer d’avis

⁃ Décision en binôme

Et enfin prendre la décision à la lumière du petit matin et en assumer la responsabilité !

Et si vous vous intéressiez davantage à l’auteur Olivier Sibony ? Ce serait forcément un bon choix !