Written by Meena Thuraisingham, Author of “The Secret Life of Decisions:how unconscious bias subverts your judgment” , Gower Publishing UK, Jan 2013 Every decision a business makes involves some risk – a reality today of the increasingly ambiguous, volatile and uncertain business environment. We tell ourselves if only we had better, more complete information we would produce better judgements and risk-free decisions. But even with the best information, our brains can subvert our judgments and decisions through the many distortions ingrained in the way our minds work. However while recognising the impact our unconscious biases have on our decisions, many of us have also convinced ourselves that if we were trained to put aside our preferences, beliefs and biases we would become better decision makers. But this is akin to asking a fish to walk not swim.  Our cognitive habits are so difficult to shake because association and heuristics are ubiquitous in our thinking processes and in fact necessary for making sense of the world and even for survival. As a result our attempts to train individuals and teams not to think representatively or over rely on past association and heuristics have so far proved largely unsuccessful. It is not enough to take precautions against ourselves by investing in self knowledge, and better reflective skill. It is also vital that we invest in building better decision making processes in our organisations. Processes that expose us in more deliberate ways to the thinking of those beyond natural coalitions and our immediate circles, and creating a decision dynamic around the executive table that will overcome insular, tribal, or binary ways of thinking. Bad decisions are rarely a consequence poor critical thinking faculties or the lack of intellect of the executive teams making them, and instead can often be traced to an inherent weakness in the decision making process. A healthy decision dynamic around an executive table has 3 critical attributes – fresh insight, robust debate and independent opinion. This dynamic is created by a decision making process that ensures a team generates diverse ideas that would not ordinarily have crossed our minds, identify risks we did not see or anticipate, interrogate unchallenged assumptions, understand critical dependencies better and feel comfortable to challenge the company’s operating assumptions and cherished formulas for success before they become strategic blind spots. However developing a robust decision making process can prove challenging for many executive teams not only because most successful executives show an over-confidence in their own decision making abilities, but also because organisations prize certainty and speed. The drive for certainty and speed causes us to be more optimistic than we should be about the business plans we submit, reach for the most available...