Techniques for re-framing issues to improve decisions
Left to our well-honed, pattern-seeking tendencies, we will begin paying attention to those parts of our environment that fit our frames. Just as significant, we will ignore or downplay those parts of our environment that do not fit our frame. Not only is our brilliance unquestioned, it is inappropriately reinforced by our search for evidence, according to John Austin in his book Unquestioned Brilliance: Navigating a Fundamental Leadership Trap.
Rather than concentrating on the psychological reasons for the blindness which leaders suffer from, the author provides a number of tools for reframing and broadening perspectives in the hope of reaching better decisions, including:
- Blind-spot centring: creating a map of assumptions including alternative assumptions generated by imagining that current dominant assumptions are incorrect
- Uncertainty vectoring: systematically considering possible interactions among high-impact uncertainties
- The backward-forward flip: simultaneously considering being wrong and right
- TAP analysis: analysing tasks, abilities and persons on teams
- GSO decision making: making decisions using the generate-synthesise-own model
- Stakeholder mapping: mapping stakeholders in various ways including according to the salience attributes of power, urgency and legitimacy
- Tension tracking: identifying and monitoring the competing demands being managed within the organisation
- The HERE snapshot: a framework for quick assessment of a new situation: helpers, end-game, reconnaissance, errors
- Reverse default setting: identify your default prediction and consider what the difference would be if the opposite turns out to be true
From my own observations I would agree that the leaders of most organisations do consistently fail to consider all relevant options when making decisions. Leaders and managers could in almost all cases broaden their frame of reference and increase the likelihood of a good decision by adopting one or more of the tools proposed by the author. This is the sort of book which should be consulted frequently.