Heuristics, the workplace, good life, and the President
Do you ever wonder about the thought process that goes into making a decision? Do you ever think I don't know why? I don't know why I make that decision, I just know, or I have this feeling? Do people ask you or wonder how you can decide based on the perception of no information to base your decision?
Does your co-worker ever say to you, don't come back until you have more data? Do you work with people who take forever to make a decision? Are you compelled to gather, what you believe, is all the information before you make a decision? As a manager, have you ever supervised an employee that you deem as making hasty decisions? As a supervisor, do you see this employee in a less favorable light? Could it be that managers with a low heuristic talent or not in- tune with their inner self, understand or accept heuristic as a competent method of making decisions? The same can be true of an employee with a high degree of inner 6th sense. Can this person become frustrated with a teammate who they believe can't make decisions quickly as they do?
Over the years, I have concluded that some of us are data-driven and lack, are not in tune with or ignore what we call the "gut feeling." Let me explain; I think the level of an inner 6th sense or intuition within each person varies in degree.
1. Varying heuristics could be based on life's experiences, education, and profession. These life experiences create the variance of a person's inner sense or 6th sense, thereby a person's heuristic degree may be less developed than others?
2. Based on our life's experiences we vary in the degrees of talent, virtue, and vices. Therefore, each of us vary in the degree of heuristic talent. Successful use of a heuristic talent can be measured by the degree of living a good life.
3. I conclude, based on observation, the less educated a person is, the more they rely on heuristic decision making.
Example: I think humans vary as to the degree of narcissism exhibited by decisions made. Everyone has a degree of narcissist within their personality and decision making. Great leaders possess narcissism, but to say all narcissism is a terrible trait of a leader would be an untrue statement. I might suggest that too much narcissism found in a leader leads to bad decisions that affect the welfare and pursuit of a good life. In other words, judging a person's degree of narcissism can be based on living a good life. We know a good life is based on the right decisions. If a person had too much narcissism in their decision making, they would make bad decisions, leading to a lousy life. The same can be said for heuristic decision making. If a person lacks the talent for heuristic decision making, then we would expect the same person to lead a sinful life by making bad decisions heuristically. However, a person who lives a good life and is observed to use his or her heuristic talent to make quick decisions should not be belittled by those who are not entuned with their inner 6th sense. The heuristic is a talent where some are data-driven might not appreciate but should, in my opinion.
Heuristic is a shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently. These non-data strategies shorten decision-making time and allow people to function without always stopping to think about their next course of action. Some psychologists have observed, cognitive biases in those who possess a heuristic talent. However, I might argue that the highly functioning heuristic person will counter a preference with the idea of moral virtue or the ability to make the right decisions day to day that is in keeping with living a good life. A highly functioning heuristic person unconsciously makes quick decisions with the idea of moral virtues firmly placed in the background of the shortcut.
Example: General Montgomery (Monty) forces at Caen in WWII were thought to be worthy of formable success. Holding Panzer divisions to a basic stalemate allowed US forces to break out of Saint Lo. However, Montys, assertions that everything went according to the plan have been refuted by countrymen such as Hastings, Morgan, Barnett, Keegan, Lamb, and General Bradly and Eisenhower. Some authors of history have written as to Montgomery being the greatest of generals, a master of the set-piece action, others who fought with him hold that Monty refused to attack before a large and overwhelming force was available. Monty's over-caution and lack of dash or one might say unable to make a decision caused him to get bogged down, giving his enemy time to fortify defenses. It is a fact that Monty never won a battle, not even the battle of Alamein, which had been won by General Claude Auchinleck before his arrival and against inferior forces sick with dysentery. I conclude this General in all likely hood, and of my opinion, lacked the needed skills to be a leader. I surmise this leader never had a grip on his heuristic feelings; therefore, his decisions were made using intelligence and data, which was not coupled with his inner 6th sense. One cannot say that about General Patton, who was Montgomery's opposite. Patton was quoted as saying, "Make the mind command the body. Never let the body command the mind." I think Patton had a firm grip on his inner self, and when I read this quote, I think having a firm grip on your inner self makes for quick and accurate decisions.
Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci is an American physician and immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. I would consider Dr. Fauci a data-driven person based on my observations of his media interviews and reports. I do not write this to put anyone in a bad light, but to explain the difference instead.
Many complain that the President is making rash decisions based on little data. I see some who are of less heuristic talent and continue to be paralyzed as to the decision-making process. For some, there never seems to be enough data to make a decision that is needed quickly, as we see in the battlefield command example. Slow decisions kill soldiers. Slow decisions during Wahun pandemic are destroying our economy. Of course, the Doctor's first inclination is "to do no harm." However, the Doctor only considers one aspect of the problem and has not reviewed all harm. That would be perfectly normal in a person of low heuristic talents. We need a decision based on all aspects of harm. Considering all harm is where our President excels. The President does this through a heuristic approach to problem-solving that employee’s practical methods that are not guaranteed to be optimal or perfect but sufficient for reaching an immediate decision that is usually correct in hindsight. Making decisions quickly, like responding to bad press, is the downfall of this approach. However, the President, when confronted with significant decisions, shows restraint and taking time to gather some data, but none the less making decisions quicker than others who advise him. Making quick decisions is what frustrates the experts the most. The experts paralyzed by data that are unable to make decisions become conservative in their decisions or make none at all. Experts cannot understand how the President can make his decisions quickly and not be the expert. I believe the President functions with a high degree of heuristic talent confusing experts who are not aware of this talent.
The Nobel-prize winning psychologist Herbert Simon wrote: "that while people strive to make rational choices, human judgment is subject to cognitive limitations." While not strictly rational, pure rational decisions would involve weighing such factors as potential costs against possible benefits. There are instances when people are limited by the amount of time, they have to make a choice. There are conditions as to the amount of data we have at our disposal to make decisions. Those prone to a weak heuristic’s ability might be those tied to the profession of college professors or Doctor. While these professions conjure the idea of intelligence, these professionals can also be limited by persons' degree of being in tune with their 6th sense. I believe these following factors, overall intelligence and accuracy of perceptions, also influence the decision-making process, where data is more important to this professional than an accurate interpretation of experience.
I might ponder the idea that the professional and the layman can arrive at the same decision, but the layman who is in-tune with his 6th sense arrives at the correct decision faster. This is not true for all determinations; every decision needs data (experience is data in my view). I am saying that some only need 50% of the data to make a correct decision, while others of academia need 100% of the data to make the same decision and arrive at the same conclusion only much later.
The President is by no means as educated as Dr. Fauci in the field of infectious diseases. At the same time, I assume that Dr. Fauci is relatively ignorant of how to run a billion-dollar empire. It seems to be the more intelligent one might be of their profession; the decision-making process slows as we ponder choices. Dr. Fauci, reputation is on the line to get the Wahun virus reactions right. Ergo, the decisions made are cautious and do not consider all aspects of life and the pursuit of happiness. The decisions made in this case are to protect Dr. Fauci's reputation and intelligence. These decisions can have consequences as to the health of our society.
During our latest pandemic and with the limitations of obtaining data, some leaders have become paralyzed and afraid to make a decision. Many are waiting for more data to make a decision. While some of us who are highly functional heuristically, we can make decisions quickly. We rely on mental shortcuts to help us make sense of the world. While Simon's research demonstrated that humans were limited in their ability to make rational decisions, another group of psychologists (Tversky and Kahneman's) work introduced the specific ways of how thinking people rely on heuristics to simplify the decision-making process.
"Why Do We Use Heuristics?
Why do we rely on heuristics? Psychologists have suggested a few different theories:
· Effort reduction: According to this theory, people utilize heuristics as a type of cognitive laziness. Heuristics reduce the mental effort required to make choices and decisions.
· Attribute substitution: Other theories suggest people substitute more straightforward but related questions in place of more complex and challenging issues.
· Fast and frugal: Still, other theories argue that heuristics are more accurate than they are biased. In other words, we use heuristics because they are quick and usually correct."
Heuristics play essential roles in both problem-solving and decision making. When we are trying to solve a problem or make a decision, we often turn to these mental shortcuts when we need a quick solution. The world is full of information, yet our brains are only capable of processing a certain amount. If you tried to analyze every aspect of every situation or decision, you would never get anything done.
To cope with the tremendous amount of information we encounter and to speed up the decision-making process, the brain relies on these mental strategies to simplify things, so we don't have to spend endless amounts of time analyzing every detail. You probably make hundreds or even thousands of decisions every day. For most people, these are simple decisions like do I want coffee or tea? Do I want to walk to work or drive? Then some are highly functioning heuristics; we have come to rely on our 6th sense for essential decisions because we have tuned into our 6th sense in a way others cannot. I am a proponent of the fast and frugal theory.
How do we know if we have made the right heuristic decisions? The answer is more straightforward than you might have guessed. We know our heuristic decisions are good because we subconsciously compare them to our moral virtues. Our happiness in life and our success in pursuing happiness dictate our ratio of good choices, where the decision making is based on heuristics. I have come to understand that a highly functional person with the talent for heuristics will eventually conclude, the decisions made, on a gut feeling, "that feeling in your bones" are right ninety-five percent of the time. Those with a low talent for heuristics will be slower to make decisions, make bad decisions, and become more reliant on data and intelligence gathering. Data gathering minds, of course, slows down the decision-making time and sometimes unnecessarily or the detriment of others.
Possible theories of low talent heuristics.
1. Teachers: Teachers work in a career where the gut feeling is not utilized. In other words, a teacher's job is based on data. Based on the number of right and wrong answers producing a grade. Decisions are not made heuristically of whether a student should pass or fail. Albert Einstein once said, " Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, the fish will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." Math cannot compute data to suggest fairness in this reality; we must apply heuristics with some data to administer justice.
2. Engineers: Engineers rely on math for their lively hood. Again, a numbers game throughout their careers. I have observed engineers for over 30 years; rare is the engineer with the foresight of what can be or to try something new based on a feeling. They must have numbers and even then, are reluctant. Paralyzed by data stifles innovation and progress in any industry.
Possible theories of talented heuristic people.
1. Based on my 20 years in Sales. Salespeople live in a world where judging other people is based on limited data. The goal is to convince the public to buy and there is a limited amount of time the salesperson has to compel a transaction that is favorable to the salesperson and the customer. The salesperson has to use heuristic shortcuts to make quick decisions in order to create an agreement to buy. A good salesperson has a high degree of heuristic talent based on the percent of wins or agreements between the buyer and seller that creates a transaction. A low talent heuristic salesperson is one who struggles to close deals.
2. Leaders: As explained in the WWII General example, we can theorize, the following based on battle wins, A General leading an Army can be thought of as highly talented or of low talent heuristics based on battlefield success.
It is in this realm of decision making is where Donald Trump excels. Forging a clear path, Donald Trump can gather limited data from his team and make quick decisions. I understand this; I use my 6th sense in a highly functional manner as well. Therefore, I can identify others who are highly functional in heuristics. While others are paralyzed, we act. It is only in the last few years of my life, where experience and inner self-awareness has allowed me to see the light. It is this self-awareness as to why I am not afraid of the darkness.
On Heuristics and High Performance. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/heuristics-high-performance-dr-joseph-hill?articleId=6547894034919149569
Heuristics and Cognitive Biases - Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-heuristic-2795235