The 12 enemies of adaptability

And weapons how to kill them…. Enemy 3: Decision Bias

Marty de Jonge
Aug 7 · 5 min read
Afbeelding van Arek Socha via Pixabay

One of the main reason for organisations to start an transformation is to (re)structure the organisation in order to improve their ability to respond to a fast changing environment.

Only, to be an smooth adaptable organisation in the world around you, first you’ll have to make sure you have an internal environment that is supporting this objective. In this serie of articles I will describe 12 enemies of internal adaptability. Kill these inside enemies and you will smoothen the way to reach your objective towards the external adaptability as an organization.

In edition 3 we will look closer to the antipattern: Decision bias.

Sometime, just strolling around on the web, I run into some strange content…Could be because the algorithms already know better what really interests me than I know myself, but in this case I was surprised about the title so I clicked the article. “ Woman wants to pay someone £2,000 to make all her decisions for an entire month” Why would anyone wants to have someone else making all her decisions? Isn’t having ‘ the freedom to make your own choices’ one of the hard-fought human rights?

However, if I read the background of the story more closely, I see that she is making this request because she has had a number of unpleasant experiences in the past year. Including losing money she loaned to a friend and getting mugged after taking a shortcut home.
All very nasty experiences, but why would anyone want to sacrifice their freedom of choice? This fear of making choices seems to lie for her in the fact that she is afraid of the consequences of those choices. Although I could never imagine giving up my freedom of choice. I do recognize however the fear of making choices because the outcomes are uncertain in my working life.

Mama always said: Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. — Forrest Gump —

Enemy 3. Decision Bias

Defensive thinking strategies, outdated ideas and contentment create a bias in favor of the status quo.

Why is it so difficult for some people to make decisions?

About this subject, there is an interesting theory about loss aversion. This notion comes from the psychology field and, in short, it states that losing something hurts more the winning something. If we choose for the one, we will not be able to choose ​​for something else. We “lose” something. And that hurts.
Let’s look at this example, imagine that your boss comes to you and says, “Starting next month you will receive 100 euros extra”. How would you feel then? Happy of course and tell your friends right away! But how do you feel about this extra 100 euros in a month and in 6 months? Are you still telling your friends?
Now another example. Your boss comes to you again and says, “Starting next month you will get 100 euros less”. How do you feel now? Angry, even furious! And believe me, even though you can leave that company because of this event, you will tell that story to everyone for years to come, “Do you know what ever happened to me? …”

We see the same in transformation processes where, for example, we introduce the Scrum framework within organizations. Rather than making a choice to embark on an adventure, there are always people who prefer to stick with everything as it is.
As we saw in the previous article in which we dealt with the antipattern “Fear”, there is something to be gained for some people to maintain the status quo.

The status quo is defined as “the current or existing state of affairs.” Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just keep things the way they are and not have to change?
These people often act as if they cooperate, but meanwhile they try to frustrate the change process as much as they can.

Unfortunately for them, You can not only “talk the talk without walking the walk” The world around us and within our organizations is constantly changing. As a result, the status quo is not sufficient and organizations must learn to adapt and change. In order to gain the benefits of using the Scrum framework, you must also live up to its values. Trying to maintain the status quo does not show very much commitment and courage in my view..

When the values of commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect are embodied and lived by the Scrum Team, the Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation come to life and build trust for everyone. — Scrum guide —

How to kill decision bias?

  1. Give a clear direction:
    If people know or understand the strategy of the organization, they also know how they can help. Make your strategy and goals clear to everyone in the organization. Show your employees how they can align their work with the change strategy and they will become more energetic and involved.
  2. Focus not only on planning but also on implementation:
    Many organizations spend more time and energy planning strategies and very little time to translate those plans into specific action. Without investing time in strategy implementation, most organizations tend to return to the status quo. In addition to a plan, make sure you also invest in good people who can guide your organization in that process. Make a phased approach that makes clear where the priorities are and discover together step by step how to implement them. You probably have people within your organization who are perfectly capable of taking others along and helping them.
  3. Give people space.
    Explain to employees what is expected of them and let them help determine how to give substance to it. Spend time and attention on the effort it takes for people to go along with the change. Sincerely listen to their objections and do something concrete with it. Make it actionable. Change is often difficult to accept. For some, it can be frightening and threatening because of the uncertainty and the risks that it can entail.

There is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice. — Simon Sinek —

In this series of articles I will discuss all 12 enemies, so stay tuned and let me know if you want a notification when the next one comes online …

Did you like the article? Then it would be awesome if you’d clap 👏🏻. I am also very keen to learn what you think about this topic.

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Former discussed enemies of adaptation in this serie:

1. Hierarchy

2. Fear

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Marty de Jonge

Written by

Organisation transformation coach, always open for new insights and feedback. Continuous learning, continuous improvement.

Serious Scrum

Content by and for serious scrum practitioners.

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