Six ways our brains fool us into making stupid decisions

  1. LOLO – Lock on lock-off – Once we think we have a solution to a problem we tend to stop looking for other options and supporting solutions. There is always a single, simple, cheap solution that will fix everything and it is always wrong. (Silver bullets are for werewolves).
  2. Root cause analysis – In mechanistic systems (like car engines and factory production lines) when you find the faulty component this can be replaced and the system resumes at optimum performance. Human systems are not like that. People are part of organic systems (like flowers in a garden), they have complex causes to problems and they need multiple solutions such as knowledge, skill, motivation and environmental (light, space, warmth, food, and water).
  3. Human beings prefer fast, intuitive thinking- Daniel Kahneman: “When faced with a complex problem we often fix a simpler one instead and do not notice the difference”. We will do almost anything to avoid the hard work of rational thinking.  In many ways, we are wired to react with an intuitive fast-thinking response to problems.
  4. Groupthink – Meetings are very poor vehicles for analysing complex problems, there is a strong tendency for the group to search for a solution and someone to take the blame. Strong leaders drive the agenda to simplistic solutions and the deceptive reassurance of decisive action. “Don’t bring me problems bring me solutions”.
  5. E-mail and phone – Analysing problems by words cannot describe the interconnected nature of most human problems which always involve multiple people interacting in a system that can only adequately be described in a diagram.
  6. We don’t like to admit to our problems – We defend our fragile self-image and sense of self. It is easier to reach for defense mechanisms; denials, avoidance, blame others, and wait for a hero on a white horse to solve it for us. (With silver bullets).

All of these things make it easier for “strong” leaders to manipulate us and make it difficult for the rational problem-solver who must: listen, suspend judgement, open up the problem by drawing a system diagram, expose the real problems, investigate the causes of the problem and design integrated solutions.