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20 September 2021
The anatomy of a bad decision
Managing the marketing functionTalent, skills, HR
The day-to-day of marketing isn’t just about trying to make good decisions, but about reducing how many bad decisions are made – as even smart people are prone to making bad decisions, understanding why is essential.
Why it matters
The main reasons for making bad decisions are usually unintentional but they are effectively many of the pressures that marketing work throws at people: focus on a narrow set of goals, rushing, working in groups with varying levels of authority or deference – are some of the main contributors. As a Farnam Street blog explains, here are some of the reasons.
Why you make bad decisions
Situational stupidity. These are the biases that we may know about, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can simply avoid them: “Whether we’re tired, overly focused on a goal, rushing, distracted, operating in a group, or under the influence of a group, we’re more prone to stupidity”, writes FS.
Thinking about looking good. We tend to prefer doing what looks good to others rather than what’s good, hard, and probably won’t be praised. Praise matters to people more than outcome.
Using wrong information. You might have oodles of data, more than you know what to do with, but if you don’t have the right information and assume you do, it’s likely to be a bad decision.
Using the wrong mental model. Using incorrect or incomplete mental models tends to become more likely as the pace of change increases.
Failing to learn. Not understanding how to learn tends to mean you’re going to make a mistake several times.
Generally, FS recommends trying to avoid stupidity rather than looking for brilliance. Learn from other disciplines, understand that your information about your environment or reality is not reality itself, ask ‘what next?’