This is an interview the McKinsey Quarterly did with Daniel Kahneman and Gary Klein in 2010. The insights are still valid today.
The interviewers were surprised by the commonalities of both scientists whom they view to have opposing schools of thought. Well, it shouldn’t come as such a surprise since Kahneman and Klein seem to share some underlying guiding principles:
- Take a humble approach to decision making, accepting that in many situations there is no right answer.
- Understand that decision making heavily depends on the context, i.e. whether it is a high or low validity environment
- Use adaptive thinking. Be as aware as possible about the decision making process.
- Have tolerance for challenge. Even be curious about other people’s different point of view.
They also agree that executives are good in showing confidence. In fact, this is what everybody expects from them. Yet their biggest risk is being overconfident – see also the article from Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic.
In the interview, I find two pieces of practical advice most valuable:
First, do a premortem for important projects. That is, assume for a moment that an upcoming project will fail. Ask everybody for the reasons they believe the project would have failed. This helps to identify the greatest risk associated with project. Those risk have to be tackled first.
I also like the advice of Daniel Kahneman to let everybody write down his opinion before starting a decision making process. In this way you can avoid that in a meeting the group’s decision making gravitates prematurely to a solution.