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In the previous articles, we had discussed some of the cognitive biases that affect our decision making process.

This subject is a minor deviation from the articles that are generally published in the design newsletter, which are core technical in nature. This is because we have enough core technical resources at our disposal in our library. The real ideal for organizational (and personal) success lies in thinking and acting in a rational and efficient manner. With that in mind, in this article, we shall bring the probably mundane discussion of cognitive biases closer home and discuss various arguments/instances at our department that are a manifestation of biased thinking. Keep the previous design newsletters open so that the names of the biases can be readily referenced. At this point, I would like to mention that the following instances are only my observations. There is a valid chance that they are tainted by my own biases and prejudices. I have tried to be objective and constructive in my attempt to present the following observations, with the hope that this article would be a small step in a continual pursuit to rationalize our thoughts and actions, which is necessary in each of us as our organization prepares to surge forward and take the industry by storm. It was done this way in the previous project. So let us adopt the same method in the current job. A classic example of Status-Quo effect. The human brain, though fascinating in many aspects, is a lazy creature when it comes to thinking rationally. Every time the above argument presents itself, remind yourself that there is ALWAYS scope for improvement. Every project has some unique benefit feature about it. Site ka log kuch bhi karte hai.. Be careful with that site, theyll blame our dept.. arey, us department ka koi kaam nahi hai kya...? someone has to be made responsible and blamed for what has happened. That design method is tough and needs experts... I have sent the site a scheme and they have not got back to me. So it is not my problem. I can also show you the mail as proof. That is the In-group effect in play. The in-group effect also builds in us a tendency to trust, obey and please the immediate boss unquestioningly. Possibly, the most destructive manifestation of this effect is when it induces a need to indulge in blame games. When such arguments appear, remind yourself that department is a disgusting word and as a next step, immediately call the person and talk to him/her. Empty your head of the dramatic courtroom scene that you are imagining, where you will have a chance to exhibit proof of your sincerity. It is, simply put, unproductive. There are no courtrooms in an organization. The organization only values tough resilient people with conviction and drive. The in-group effect intensifies as we isolate the person/group. So it is necessary to remain in constant touch, and be earnest. Humne site mein aisa fabricate karke use kar rahe hai. Now kindly check it for structural adequacy. A previous design also had the same method of calculation We all know the anguish that the designer hears when he/she hears the first statement from site. It is such a common occurrence, that these days, it makes me laugh. These arguments are examples of the confirmation bias.

With ISMB 500, I am having a utilization of 95%.. is it safe? Site reported that they may have ISMB 600.. Id better indicate an ISMB 550 in the drawing and wait for them to come back to me.. Anchoring effect. Typically it nudges us to take conservative decisions, which are logically and in most cases, functionally uncomfortable. The anchoring effect prevents us from putting in extra efforts, which are required when a close (or risky) design is to be made. The right thing to do here is to consult various codes, superiors/experts and the client, and make clear to all the parties involved of the assumptions in the design. The structure, though not totally safe as per design, worked in the previous project. So why bother with a heavier design in this one? Gamblers fallacy- The Swashbuckling sites favourite argument. Remember, at every new toss of the coin, the probability of heads is still 1/2. The right thing to do here is, check the design and perform a risk assessment. Also, prepare a contingency plan, and also convey it to your client. Let us send this drawing first, even though the site has revised their functional requirements, an hour ago. I have worked on this drawing for 2 days, and I dont want my work to go waste. This is Current moment bias and Post purchase rationalization working in unison. The problems it creates are multifold. Firstly, the site gets confused with the drawing they receive and they despair. Secondly, we try to fit the functional requirements into our pre-existing scheme, instead of considering the revised functional requirements as a fresh problem with avenues for new solutions and value addition. Thirdly, mental fatigue sets into the designer, and his/her mind closes itself to new methods and approaches. The only solution to this is to keep yourself in the loop, all the time. Remember that your client does not think about what you are working on. And just because you worked hard for days, it does not give you the licence to evade the mental effort required for excellence. A situation like this, minor though it seems, is actually a great test of character and resilience. Our project has been delayed by 4 days.. I dont know what will happen to this organization.. (!) The organization is not getting enough new projects.. I think I should find a new job The equipment is not working.. . I think we cannot achieve the target Negativity Bias. Simply countered by assessing the facts and their magnitude. Train yourself to be immune to bad news. The most challenging problems with the greatest payback will come at a time when you are tired, fatigued and at a loss for time. And when you feel fresh and are in a mood to solve new problems and achieve great things, you will find no worthy problems to solve. This is a strange paradox that you will experience consistently in life. But why would the site place the girder the other way round? Projection Bias- The classic example of the types, wherein each personality type has a projection of what competence is: Eg: A looks at strong organization skills and efficient adherence to practices and systems as competence. B considers Intelligence and innovation as competence. C considers people skills and diplomacy as competence. Learn to step out of your head and put yourself in other peoples shoes. What I have described above are by no means exhaustive. But I hope you see the nature of these sneaky glitches in our decision making process. Typically, all the cognitive biases crop up when a person is not rationally alert. This happens when the person is mentally fatigued and wants to take the easy way to arrive at decisions. A person needs to practice the skill of detached reasoning and questioning. Thinking logically is an art and

like other arts, it needs a lot of conscious practice. Put up a list of cognitive biases and logical fallacies on your pinboard. Every time you attend a meeting, or have a conversation, identify the arguments that are biased. Think of ways to counter such biased arguments. Take my word for it when I say that such a practice will not only be professionally rewarding, but will also help in personal growth. The other important step to be taken to avoid such biases is open and clear communication containing sound and logical arguments. I shall expound in more detail about arguments in the next article. Also Btw, I have got a prize for someone who can identify the most number of commonly occurring instances of cognitive biases in our organization J