134- Decision-Making World Views: Static,  Dynamic, Developmental.

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We have had a couple of questions about mathematical algorithms and their likely effects on Decision-Making in business. We have noticed Harvard Business Review and Strategy and Business has a lot of articles instructing people on decision-making with a wide span of focus including:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • How centralized or decentralized differs
  • The effects on the projected image we form of people based on how flexible vs confident someone is in their decision-making
  • The outcomes for the business of how they make decisions.
  • What the effect is on the tangible results they get based on how they think when making decisions. 


Harvard Business Review published an article Sept. 11, 2019 on the value of being able to change your mind on past decisions after new evidence was found. Research showed that in a pitch contest to investors, those that seemed open to changing their ideas in the engagement with investors, did better In advancing.  And they noted how some people could and other cannot do this kind quick adaptation.

  • Sometimes, under other circumstances, the one that stick to their opinion, in fact were overconfident about it, are seen as better decision-makers in another context.
    • As in hiring interviews, or where they have to present ideas to a group of leaders. Those that stuck to their ideas were seen as thoughtful and prepared and more likely to be recommended for hiring. 
    • So, flexibility was not always favored but was favored a larger percentage of the time. As a result of the higher average, the researchers set out to teach everyone to be able to change their mind, to be more flexible.
    • This HBR article and a second one gives some strange advice on how to teach people in organization to do that ”change of mind trick.”
      • They suggested to arrange for people to change their mind in private, or secret, so no one has to face being identified for fear of looking under confident or indecisive. Protect them from the reverse, looking stupid.  Especially men and higher up In the organization. They teach them to change their mind without worrying about looking bad. As if that is the point of decision-making.
        • It makes you wonder, what causes people to come to such a crazy idea?  Beyond the problem with the nature of research, which leads to narrowing a study to one behavior, is the fact that the study was done in a lab not with real people.
        • If you listen well, you realize they have a paradigm problem. They see people as fixed and unchanging without there being a change of pressure from outside. 
          • This is not helping them learn and change. They are stuck in a behavioral paradigm seeing people as Rats in a maze being manipulated. 


The Paradigm Problem: External Consideration or Management Manipulation


  • In a regenerative paradigm they see this situation as a capability problem that can be improved with the development of the capability of people to be more critical in their thinking skills 
  • Daniel Kahneman, the Pulitzer Prize winning psychologist  said that overconfidence is the bias he’d eliminate first if he had a magic wand. It’s ubiquitous, particularly among menthe wealthy, and even experts. Overconfidence depends on factors including culture and personality.
    • But the chances are good that people are more confident about each step of the decision-making process than you ought to be. Rarely too flexible.


What does the article suggest? 


  • Let them change their mind in private to be less embarrassed or demeaned
  • Be less certain
  • Have them learn about probabilities of being right. So, none of this assumes it is a personal capability opportunity. It is seen as a cultural problem or math skills problem. The behavioral answer is to change the organizations way of responding or people’s way of assessing the odds of their answer being right.


    Suggestions from Carol at  Business Second Opinion

  • First, they need to change from a Fixed worldview of humans to a dynamic way and know this is an individual and collective capability challenge, not a cultural or organizational one. Or not only at least. 
    • Then move to developmental view, the third level.  That is, where people thrive and don’t feel threatened when they work at a place where they grow themselves personally and are not stuck in a static view of themselves, or from others. 
      • It not only solves the worry about how one is viewed, over confidence and worry about belonging and seen as intelligent. It is really good for business. 
    • We have seen this happen, in larger organizations in which I have worked. The people are evaluated early on and then are assumed to have the same strengths and weaknesses, skills and gaps and to have to same level of motivation they had when we first came to know them. It is critical to break out of such boxes. It sounds like a huge challenge.
      • Getting past a mind that is fixed can be a barrier. It start with how people think, which anyone who listens to us regularly will not be surprised to hear me say. 
        • But let’s take a slightly different perspective to understand how this happens. 



If you are a parent with a son and asked what is an ideal son- and how does your child match that idea. How would you answer? (Zac’s personal example)


When I first think of some shining, abstract human that I’ve seen in movies or read about in books. I automatically pull all the best features and personality characteristics and behaviors and I can name them off in a long list – like always listens to me, gets 90% or better on all his tests, always has a clean room. Stuff like that. And then when I look at him using that, I see all the ways he achieves some of those things but more often than not how he falls short of that ideal. Its like he will never be enough. 


  • That is viewing him from a model thinking process. Comparing him to a generic way of thinking. Comparing how far off he is from the ideal prototype or model.
  • This is all about what we want rather than who the child is becoming and what drives them. It’s about external forcing rather than understanding
  • We don’t tend to see our own children in models except when we are upset with them. But let’s compare that to a framework thinking perspective. 
    • What calls for discovering what is unique and exciting about children and how they take on the world? What does this portend for him? What potential does he have undeveloped that will serve his own aspirations? What might be your role in supporting that coming about?

Ground – Child has always been good in a crisis, something goes off the rails and he’s right there totally engaged and prepared.

Goal –  It’s hard to tell what that portends for them but I can see them using that almost like a super power to help and care for people regardless of industry.

Direction – When we think about children, it’s really about them sharpening this capacity and developing it into a capability of some kind.

Instrument – Being a resource for them as they explore the world. 


What are the characteristics of model thinking vs. Framework thinking?

  • Models- generic, abstracted from real and meaningful. Telling me what answers to use. 
  • Framework thinking explores a specific understanding of each being. And we can extend that to each place, customer or even raw material. 
  • When we switch to framework thinking as a parents we become more motivated to help them learn and stay out of the day to day fear. This same concept applies in organizations. 
    • They use model thinking for all situations. It is the default. To switch to using framework thinking and stops using model thinking takes a lot of work, To switch the mind we turn on. And to turn off  Models tell us answers that are averaged or idealized. Frameworks give us questions, like the ones I asked you, or arenas in which to form a way to think critically and develop questions to guide us in each unique situation.
      • So, framework thinking is always specific to a real situation with names attached to it. Persons,  Places, Buyer, Supplier. And each has aspirations and intentions to create great things in the world. They have uniqueness and distinctiveness we need to understand and engage with. 
        • Framework thinking offers living structures without answers already predetermined and invite us to see it alive and on a specific journey they are inviting us to support them in. But we cannot see that if we have the model in our head and are fixed on the gap between the model and the real thinking.
        • It becomes easier to see that in the articles. Recommendations, in most of HBR articles are composed of models.
        • As here, the challenge when people are overconfident or inflexible stem from the same problem.
          •  A fixed view of how they are judged by someone thinking about them through a model. And, likely judging themselves themselves the same way.  And neither have anything to do with getting better answers for the organization.
            • Each compensation method, whether standing firm in our answer or blending with the people who might give us their dollars, comes from having an idealized model in their head about how something works. They can’t see the model driving them, but it is affecting all their thinking. What they take into account, the weight given to thinking and Models tell you the predetermined set of  answers and you get stuck with them as the only ones. It sets people off to over defending a position and cannot see that others have a different model that defines what is right.
            • Using framework thinking is working with structured graphic structures that show the arenas or domains  to consider and form questions unique to a situations. 
              • It avoid the generic answers problems as well as the idea of a template that fits everywhere. It also provides a share organization way to think about something, not the answers they all have. This is what we teach people to do in Carol Sanford Institute. 
              • A framework structures arenas to  consider. Do we want a powerful person to evaluate persons or self-evaluation. What are the implications? What would each promote? 
              • Moving the entire organization from Static to Dynamic by ongoing development  in all meetings and group work using reflection processes that give people the capacity to see the world as dynamic and not static and see themselves in the same way. But this is a simple, and just massive change from all business and education cultures.


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Harvard Business Review References:


Changing Your Mind Makes you Seem More Intelligent, Sept 11, 2019, by Martha Jeong, et all


Three Ways to Improve Your Decision-making. January 22, 2018, by Walter Frick 


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 Carol Sanford and Zac Swartout, co-producers