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Decision-making 2.0 (and why everybody counts)

Source | LinkedIn : By Indrayudh Ghoshal

“Boss, you’ve thought this through, right?”

“Hmm? ‘Course I have”

“Oh, good, good. I mean..No, nothing..It’s just..It’s just that as a company, we’re putting all our eggs in this basket now. Wanted to see if you needed help with the decision-making, but you seem to have it under control”

“Yep, yeah, no worries, I’ve got this”

This happens. Often. If it’s a major decision, when a lot hangs in the balance, you’re going to find you have incomplete information about the options in front of you. Your magic 8-ball has rolled herself away, so it’s just you. Of course, you can ask for help. You can bring in the top few brains in the company, or get those consultants into your boardroom to help you decide, but if you do, you’ve missed out on the most valuable resource you could have used.

Turns out, in these situations, the lay person has a lot more to offer than an expert does. Your best bet would be to run a quick poll among your employees and take the average of their responses. Depending on the type of question, you’d choose the most appropriate average, whether mean, median or mode. The odds, verified by numerous experiments, are high that this method would get you closer to your best option than one or a small group of experts could.

The reasoning is interesting. Each poll respondent provides an answer that comprises part knowledge and part error. Here, knowledge refers to some sliver of information they have about the problem on hand. This could be tiny, and it wouldn’t be a problem. The other part – the error – stems from the respondent’s biases or, if they have zero information about the possible answer, then from the randomization process they chose. When you aggregate these responses from several respondents, the pieces of knowledge add up and the pieces of error tend to cancel each other out.

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