Dana Vetan
Jan 2 · 3 min read

When testing hypotheses, people tend to only look for evidence that could confirm the hypothesis and overlook or deny the evidence that could disconfirm it. This is how the Confirmation Bias affects both the kick-off as well as the ending of a design sprint, making it one of the most powerful cognitive biases impacting a Sprint.

But this is not the only bias we should be concerned about. Our decision-making process is also affected by:

  1. Affinity bias — The tendency to disproportionately favor individuals who are similar to us.
  2. Status quo bias — we prefer familiarity and resist change — “when in doubt, do nothing!”
  3. Anchoring bias — the tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information received and to use that as a starting point when making a decision.
  4. Confirmation bias — the tendency to look for evidence that confirms or upholds our beliefs and disregard or deny the evidence disconfirming it.
  5. Overconfidence bias — unwarranted faith in our intuitive reasoning, judgments, and cognitive abilities.
  6. Sunk/cost bias — we’re reluctant to pull out of something we’ve put effort into.
  7. Framing bias — we avoid risk when things are framed as gains, and seek risks when things are framed as losses.

All these biases put together can influence the sprint team towards focusing on the wrong part of the problem, picking the wrong step on the map, or choosing the safest, most obvious solution in a design sprint.

To highlight how biases affect the decision-making process in a Design Sprint, let’s look at Wednesday morning when the team evaluates all solutions and decides which ones to prototype. After the “Speed Critique” exercise each team member needs to pick their favorite idea and explain their choice to the Decider in a phase called Straw Poll. Here’s what one of the team members might pitch to the Decider:

Esmeralda T., CTO

We all know that by doing a simple online search for “what % of apps fail?” the result is 90% of them. We didn’t want to build just another app, so for the past two years, our team developed the current online platform. We invested a considerable amount of energy and resources into this project, and I believe that if we focus more on improving the current customer experience, we will be able to onboard new users as opposed to starting from scratch.

I recently spoke to my friend, Isabella, from Customer Support, and she also confirmed that our current users didn’t explicitly request an app or express the need for an app.
Now, I know some people are saying that we need to make some drastic changes because users are dropping off, and we can’t gain new ones, but I have been in this situation before. I know for sure that sometimes it’s enough to change a couple of steps in the process, improve the experience and people will be more inclined to use our platform. If we could simplify the onboarding sequence, we could gain 20% more new users, or if we could remove extra steps in the shopping experience, we could increase our sales with at least 15%.

In the text above, all 7 biases are present. Most people discover all of them in about 5–6 minutes.

You can download and print the Bias Bingo Worksheet here and try it yourself. All you have to do is grab a pen and draw the connecting arrows between the biases and their correspondent sentence.

How did you do? Please share your impressions in the comments.


Related articles about Biases in Sprints:

3 Ways Biases Can Impact Design Sprints

What Triggers Biases in Sprints

If you want to learn more about avoiding cognitive biases and making better decisions join our Problem Framing Workshops.

Design Sprint Academy

Learn how to run Design Sprints successfully

Dana Vetan

Written by

Head of Training & Co-founder at Design Sprint Academy https://ro.linkedin.com/pub/dana-vetan/15/712/36b

Design Sprint Academy

Learn how to run Design Sprints successfully

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