Published August 2022 on YouTube

Insights for Making Better Decisions | Gary Klein | Knowledge Project 144

1. Intro

Gary Klein shares his perspective on consensus decisions, explaining that they tend to be risk averse and hinder innovation. He believes that people should be open to bold and innovative ideas rather than settling for what's comfortable and agreed upon by everyone.+

2. Pathways to Insights

Developing Expertise:Gary discusses his study on insights and how organizations often focus on reducing errors rather than increasing insights. He identifies three pathways to insights, including the connection pathway where ideas are put together. Darwin's discovery of evolution is used as an example.+
Gaining Insights:Gary Klein and Shane Parrish discuss three pathways to gaining insights: connection, contradiction, and correction. However, organizations often resist insights because they disrupt predictability and are disorganizing. The key to gaining insights is to become curious about things that don't make sense.+

3. Maximizing Insights

Gary Klein advises individuals to become more curious and celebrate their insights to maximize their potential in an organization. Organizations can facilitate insights by creating a mechanism for review and reexamining rejected ideas. Experienced individuals tend to have scar tissue from past failures, which can hinder innovation.+

4. On changing experience

Shane and Gary discuss the importance of experience in decision-making, but caution that it is not infallible. They also note that risk aversion can be a factor in decision-making, particularly among those nearing retirement.+

5. Expertise Criteria

Gary Klein shares his insights on identifying experts and their criteria, including the importance of reflecting on past mistakes. He also discusses how people often rely on surface characteristics to determine credibility, which can lead to mediocre decisions.+

6. Evaluating Decision Making

Evaluating Decision Making:Gary and Shane discuss the various criteria for evaluating decision making and expertise, including running scenarios, analyzing mistakes, track record, and peer feedback. They also highlight the importance of going beyond surface-level explanations and using cognitive interviews to understand how individuals make decisions.+
Employee Evaluation:Gary Klein suggests using a decision scorecard to evaluate employees instead of the traditional evaluation process. The scorecard involves looking at the major decisions made by the employee and evaluating them based on what they were thinking at the time of the decision. This method is less stressful for employees and provides a learning opportunity for both parties.+
Decision Journaling:Shane and Gary discuss the benefits of decision journaling, including reflection and identifying patterns in decision making. They emphasize the importance of writing by hand and offer a template for listeners to use. They also mention the possibility of publishing a Decision Journal for purchase on Amazon.+

7. What Gary means by "Mental Model"

Gary Klein discusses his study of mental models in petrochemical plants and how they include not just how something works, but also its limitations, workarounds, and anticipating confusion.+

8. Reflections on the Learning Loop

Shane and Gary discuss the learning process and the importance of reflection and abstraction. They highlight the limitations of language and suggest using stories to better understand abstractions.+

9. The Power of Stories

Gary and Shane discuss the role of stories in communicating expertise, highlighting that stories engage listeners by compressing ideas, omitting certain details, and providing insights that lead to realizations. Effective stories have a mystery element, are told by someone who enjoys storytelling, and result in at least one insight that listeners are struck by.+

10. On exploring anomalies

Ignoring Anomalies:Shane and Gary discuss how humans tend to ignore anomalies and dismiss inconvenient data, rather than exploring them. They explain how this is a low power mode for us and how even scientists use knowledge shields to protect their theories. They suggest harnessing curiosity when something doesn't happen the way it's supposed to.+
Breaking Fixation:Gary and Shane discuss how fixation can lead to errors in decision-making and how to break out of it by noticing anomalies. They suggest keeping a decision journal to track initial impressions and questioning them as new data arises. Shane also shares the idea of a surprise journal to note unexpected events and reflect on them later.+

11. Expertise and Learning

Gary and Shane discuss the importance of unlearning and making mistakes in the process of gaining expertise. They also explore how organizations can use vicarious experiences to help employees learn from mistakes without encouraging them to make errors intentionally.+

12. Cognitive Flexibility Theory

Gary explains cognitive flexibility theory, which is about preventing people from getting stuck in routines and standard ways of doing things. Experts are excited when things don't go as planned and they have to improvise.+

13. How to conduct useful pre-mortems

Premortems:Gary shares a technique called premortems, which involves conducting an after action review at the beginning of a project to reduce errors and increase success rates.+
Project Failure Exercise:Gary and Shane discuss an exercise where a team writes down all the reasons why a project might fail. The exercise helps identify potential risks and ways to mitigate them.+
Running Effective Meetings:Gary and Shane discuss the importance of premortems in running effective meetings. They highlight how premortems create a culture of candor and trust within a team, and how it can reverse the usual dynamic of meetings where people are hesitant to identify problems. They also discuss common mistakes made in running premortems, such as framing it wrong or letting individuals talk too long.+

14. How to limit cognitive biases

Limiting Cognitive Biases:Gary Klein challenges the dominant view that decision biases need to be taken into account, arguing that the heuristics that lead to biases are also the same ones that help us make quick and effective decisions. While there is little success in debiasing people, the positive side of heuristics has not been studied enough.+
The Value of Heuristics:Gary and Shane discuss the usefulness of heuristics in decision-making and the role of emotions in the process. They argue that heuristics are valuable for coming up with insights and making decisions, and that emotions are necessary for drawing on patterns and experiences. They challenge the idea that emotions cloud our thinking and interfere with our decisions, and suggest that they are actually a crucial part of the decision-making process.+

15. How to make team decisions

Team Decision Making:Gary and Shane discuss the different strategies used in team decision making, including autocratic and democratic approaches. They highlight the importance of context and urgency in determining which approach to use. They also touch on the dangers of consensus decision making.+
Effective Group Decisions:Gary and Shane discuss the problems with group decisions and the benefits of anonymous voting. They suggest that individuals should make decisions, while groups should provide input.+
Defining the Problem:Shane and Gary discuss the importance of defining the problem before solving it, and suggest methods for generating unique insights and problem statements. They also touch on the benefits of having a single leader who can query team members and make the most of their resources.+
Effective Project Reviews:Gary and Shane discuss the importance of effective project reviews and how to approach them in a way that captures insights and promotes curiosity. They also delve into the concept of wicked problems and how goals and parameters can change over time.+

16. The Zone of Indifference

Gary Klein discusses the phenomenon of the "zone of indifference," where two options are so similar that the advantages and disadvantages are almost perfectly balanced, making it difficult to make a decision. He suggests recognizing when you're in this zone and making a choice to avoid paralysis. Shane Parrish shares his heuristic "stop flop or no" to help make decisions.+

17. On shadowboxing

Tough Decision Making:Gary and Shane discuss the recognition prime decision model, a blend of intuition and analysis that has been used to explain how people make tough decisions under pressure. They explore the challenges of training people in this strategy and how a firefighter developed scenarios to help people handle new and tough situations.+
Decision Making Training:Gary explains how his scenario-based approach, Shadowbox, can train decision-making skills. Participants are given a tough scenario and must rank order different courses of action and goals, while writing down their reasons. They then compare their rankings to those of a panel of experts, learning to see the world through their eyes. The video-based version allows participants to highlight important cues and compare their observations to those of the experts.+

18. Decision Making Environment

Gary Klein discusses the importance of environment in decision making, particularly in the context of police officers and use of force decisions. He shares insights from his "Good Strangers Project" which studied military personnel and police officers who were skilled at diffusing situations and creating a benign environment. One of the key takeaways was the importance of building trust with civilians, rather than relying on intimidation and threats.+