Jun 7, 2019
Your host, Dan Neumann, is going solo this episode to explore the topic of cognitive bias. It’s impossible for us to logically process every piece of information we receive, so our brain has come up with shortcuts — simpler ways of processing information. Though this can serve us really well, unfortunately, to process information rapidly our brain has developed biases.
Today Dan covers many of the common cognitive biases, why they’re evolutionary helpful, and how they can affect agile teams. He also provides examples and gives solutions on how to combat these biases in an agile team. Some of the biases he covers are the anchoring bias, optimism bias, availability bias, illusory superiority, attribution bias, and the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Tune in to discover the cognitive biases you may not even know you had and learn how to combat them!
What is cognitive bias?
An error in the way our brain processes information
It’s impossible for us to logically process every piece of information we receive, so our brain has come up with shortcuts; simpler ways of processing information
Our brain has developed biases in order to process information rapidly
Information biases: errors in the way we process information (includes: anchoring, optimism, and availability biases)
Ego biases: errors in the way we see ourselves (includes illusory superiority)
Anchoring bias (where an individual relies too heavily on an initial piece of information offered to make subsequent decisions)
Optimism bias (where we generally believe ourselves to be less prone to negative events)
Availability bias (where we judge how important or how likely something is by how easy it is to think of an example)
Illusory superiority (known as the “above average” bias; we consider ourselves)
Attribution bias (where we tend to attribute our own successes to our innate abilities and our failures to bad luck, and others’ successes to circumstance and failures to incompetence)
Dunning-Kruger effect (where unskilled people tend to be overconfident and overestimate their abilities and highly skilled people underestimate their abilities and become frustrated with others)
How do cognitive biases affect agile teams?
Anchoring bias over-weights the first piece of information presented
Under pressure, anchoring can become even more pronounced
Anchoring in a retrospective can lead the meeting to revolve around the first topic mentioned
Optimism bias isn’t so helpful in a complex adaptive system, building software, and working in teams
Availability bias can affect those design systems because when we’re not clear about the end user we’re targeting; we tend to use our own references
How to combat and moderate cognitive biases:
Combat anchoring with silent writing, planning poker, and by simply sleeping on it to remove the pressure
Combat optimism bias by processing more complex information using the “beyond budgeting” approach: estimate, budget, and the expected outcome
Combat optimism by considering the opposite, many alternatives, or alternative plausibility
Combat availability bias by really doing your research; be aware you’re most prone to recall your most recent or most memorable event and conduct experiments to prove or disprove your bias
Moderate ego bias by creating safety; model getting feedback, evaluate the work and not the individual, bring data, and broaden your perspective
Mentioned in this Episode:
Want to Learn More or Get in Touch?