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SPaMCAST 457 features our essay on cognitive biases and their impact on decision making.  If you doubt the impact of biases on decision making, read chapter five of The Science of Successful Organizational Change (current Re-read Saturday Book) and listen to this week’s podcast!

Our second column this week is from Jon M Quigley (The Alpha and Omega of Product Development), Jon continues his theme of learning organizations with penetrating insight on how a learning organization evolves.

Kim Pries (The Software Sensei) anchors the cast this week with a strong argument that if you want to improve the software you are delivering begin by hiring the right people!

We also have a promo for 2017 Agile Leadership Summit:

Mark your calendar for an entirely new class of business conference. More “business theater” than a conference, the 2017 Agile Leadership Summit (September 22nd in Washington, DC) is sponsored by AgileCxO (agilecxo.org). It features an integrated mix of six vignettes on Agile leadership, two fantastic industry keynotes, and onstage jazz musicians who are demonstrating agility, iteration, and excellence throughout. Learn more at http://agilecxo.org.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week Steven dives into Chapter 6 of Paul Gibbons’ book The Science of Successful Organizational Change.   There are a lot of techniques that I see used on a daily basis that are based on pop psychology. Confronting the true believers is often a lot like jousting at windmills. Remember to use the link in the essay to buy a copy of the book to support the author, the podcast, and the blog!   

This week and previous installments: (more…)

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Not all puppies and kittens.

Cognitive biases are important decision-making tools.  The help to make snap decisions based on patterns of behavior that have been successful in the past. However cognitive biases are not all kittens and puppies.  Cognitive biases can also lead us to miss problems we are not trained to recognize or to ignore better solutions to problems we have solved before.  With some rules, effort, and support most of the problems caused by cognitive biases can be avoided. Tools to avoid the downsides of cognitive biases include:  (more…)

Need an extra set of eyes?

Paul Gibbons suggested in the introduction to Part One of The Science of Successful Organizational Change that every generation thinks it’s path is shaped by great upheavals.  Much of this perception is due to availability bias. Availability bias leverages the most relevant immediate example to evaluate a concept or idea.  The availability bias is only one of a myriad of cognitive biases that humans have developed to deal with the complexity of the world around us.  Steven Adams recently asked, “What biases/fallacies might a developer fall prey to when testing code that he or she developed?” If we broaden the question to which of the cognitive biases would affect anyone reviewing their own work (based on the 16 we have explored over the past two years), there are several cognitive biases that would suggest that reviewing your own work is less fruitful than getting a different set of eyes.  Some of the leading culprits are: (more…)

Teams thrive on reciprocity.

Biases affect everyone’s behavior in all walks of life.  In a recent Freakonomics podcast, The Stupidest Thing You Can Do With Your Money, Stephen Dubner described the impact of various cognitive biases on the behaviors of many well-known money managers (and nearly 70% of the investors in the world).  The people on teams involved in the development, support and maintenance of software products are not immune to the impact of biases.  After the publication of our essay A Return to Cognitive Biases, Steven Adams asked “What biases/fallacies might a developer fall prey to when testing code that he or she developed?” It is a great question that gets to the heart of why understanding cognitive biases is important for leaders and team members.  We will return to the question after we added two more biases to our growing pallet of biases that we have explored. (more…)

Creative thinking can help you combat cognitive biases.

Cognitive biases are shortcuts that people use in decision making.  The shortcuts generated by cognitive biases are typically helpful, which leads to people to internalize the bias. These internalized biases are therefore used unconsciously.  Any behavior that becomes an unconscious response can lead to actions and decisions that are perceived as irrational if the context or the environment has shifted.  For example, a colleague recently related a story about an organization with an emergent product quality problem that occurred after they had disbanded their independent test group. The response was to immediately reconstitute the test group based on the belief that if the independent testing had worked before it would work again. The response was based on a cognitive bias, not a root cause analysis or some form of mindfulness.   (more…)

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The use of teams to deliver business value are at the core of most business models.  In matrix organizations teams are generally viewed as mutable; being formed and reformed from specialty labor pools to meet specific contexts. Teams can be customized to address emerging needs or critical problems and then fade away gracefully.  Examples of these kinds of teams include red teams or tiger teams.  This approach is viewed as maximizing organizational flexibility in a crisis.  The crisis generates the energy needed to focus the team on a specific problem.  However, as a general approach, dynamic teams have several problems because of how the organizations are structured and how people interact and become teams. (more…)

HTMA

How to Measure Anything, Finding the Value of “Intangibles in Business” Third Edition


Chapter 12 of How to Measure Anything, Finding the Value of “Intangibles in Business” Third Edition is the second chapter in the final section of the book.  Hubbard titled Chapter 12 The Ultimate Measurement Instrument: Human Judges.  The majority of HTMA has focused on different statistical tools and techniques.  This chapter examines the human as a measurement tool.  Here is a summary of the chapter in a few bullet points:

  • Expert judgement is often impacted by cognitive biases.
  • Improve unaided expert judgment by using simple (sic) statistical techniques.
  • Above all else, don’t use a method that adds more error to the initial estimate.

(more…)