Sunday, July 30, 2017

'Optimism Bias' leads to poor decision making!


Effective Time-management and Time-boxing is a concern for 'always ready people'.  Being from a background that I am from,  I am probably one of them!  While doing project planning , factoring in some room for the unknown or unseen is very helpful , but that might not be possible all the time. 

Today I came across  Hofstadter's Law and then it naturally took me to read more about "Planning Fallacy

Hofstadter's Law states : 

 It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law. - Douglas Hofstadter

The planning fallacy, first proposed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1979, states it to be 
 -  "a phenomenon in which predictions about how much time will be needed to complete a future task display an optimism bias and underestimate the time needed" ( ref : wikipedia )

 If we analyze the pattern why many of us often tend to miss the project deadlines ,  you will find that - we usually fall prey to this "planning fallacy" , which is nothing but our tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a specific task . 

Its because , we have an optimistic bias  ( TED Talk by Tali Sharot ) towards the task that involve us. 

Optimism bias,  or  unrealistic optimism is the tendency of individuals to underestimate the likelihood  that they will experience adverse events, such as - incomplete or delayed projects , serious diseases or road accidents etc. . As a consequence of this bias, some individuals underestimates the need of precautions that might curb such risks. This bias leads us to believe that we are less likely to get affected from misfortune and more likely to attain success , while the reality might be otherwise.

Planning carefully and conservatively can save us from lot of consequent / unwanted frustrations.

We must remember -  the risk of  'Optimism bias'  is -   poor decision-making!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Basics of 'escalation'

This will be probably my shortest post ever!

Every project that you handle - there is an escalation mechanism /  matrix defined.  Many of us either do not use it in the fear of conflict,  some overdo this , and many of us do it wrong!

Escalating a problem at the right time, to the right person with the adequate amount of information is the key for successful projects!

My observation:

  • Excessive escalation can cause stakeholders and sponsors to get numb - hope you remember the 'cry wolf' story :)
  • Not doing it with the fear of conflict is a sign of sheer un-professionalism!!
  • Doing it with a business continuity aspect in mind is what gets praised!


Regarding #how to do it right -

The golden rule is -  "Escalate to the right person who can unblock you!" -  and that person need not have to be a leader.

While DACI  is an effective model for decision-making , role clarity, and communications   - crisis management is a different aspect all together!  


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Wear your 'TIE' for a great conversation!!



This is NOT a post about how to 'Tie a Tie'.  Rather , just an effort to remember a few fundamentals before we strike a conversation with someone. 

Too often, a conversation results in wasted time.  'TIE' -   I am using here as a ref. to help us remember these fundamentals which can help add meaning to your conversations and ensure  effective outcomes.


  T I E ,  Let's break it down:  


      T= Time and Timing.
      I=  Interest and Information
      E= Energy and Emphasize


Time and Timing ( T ): 

Devoting genuine and sincere 'time' for any conversation is key to ensure a good two way dialogue.

At the same time opening up on a topic requires certain atmosphere or frame of mind which I am referring here as 'timing'.

Interest and Information (I): 

Good conversation is never one-sided.  When we talk to someone , our brain is unconsciously but constantly searching for -  where the individual's interests lies. Think of a Venn diagram. When you find these intersections of interests , these conversations flows with great intensity and becomes very lively. We like people who are like us! 

Some other tips would be -  asking genuine questions in between ,  keep asking yourself how you can add value into this ongoing conversation, endear them!

I personally believe that  -  before going for any planned meeting,  we should always arm ourselves with the topic. The Information element.   And if we could  not - we can just support the ongoing  discussion. For. ex. say “I don’t know a lot, but I do know that…”

Never try yo  dominate a conversation.  Conversational Narcissism is bad!  Really bad!  On the other hand we should NOT be a non-contributor either.

Don’t overshare  - don't  be someone who pours out his life story as soon as you meet him. Within couple of  minutes you know why his girlfriend dumped him..etc. etc.



Energy and Emphasize (E):

By 'energy' I do not mean exercising extremes in autonomy or to dominate a conversation ,  BUT a well balance mix of -  effective body language , gesture , stance , pitch and pace.

This is NOT about exerting overuse of energy which might add noise to the conversation , rather bringing your  'whole being'  into the conversation.

We also must 'emphasize' the important words and effectively underline important points during such conversations.

Above all these ,  let's also remember the saying - "the key to the art of conversation is not in the talking, but in the listening"


Well , that's it for now!  Wear this 'TIE' to add meaning to your  next conversation ,  and see if it helps! :))   Don't forget to share your experience.




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