As I progressed through my work career and through my life, I started to recognize the importance of the question ‘why’. I started to learn about systems thinking and everything started to look more like an inter-connected system rather than vertical silos. In work, every performance problem did not appear to be a result of the individual or their lack of knowledge. Most importantly, decisions started to include other perspectives. I started to see how all this positively impacts organizational culture, diversity and inclusion, and how it increased innovation and made for better decision making.
Decision making can be a complex process, which requires a lot of information to be processed simultaneously; making it a very complicated computational task for the brain. Studies show that there can be up to 11 million pieces of information thrown at the brain per second. But the brain’s conscious level can only process about 40 pieces of information per second. To solve these problems, we rely on simplifying heuristics, or intuition, rather than logical reasoning. This has helped humans make decisions quickly and helped humans survive and evolve in the primitive days. The risk of this is that at times irrelevant, contextual information leads to making inconsistent, illogical, and implicitly biased choices. This risk is now magnified since we are in the age of digital transformation with constant change and technological advancements. We are still fighting for survival, but now survival from ourselves and our own destruction. Decisions leveraging data are now more important than ever.
When making data-informed decisions, it is critical to look at the information from multiple perspectives. This is easier done within a group of diverse colleagues. It allows you to easily reframe by listening to other perspectives. To one person, the answer may be to stop delivering a product in a specific segment. Another person with a different set of experiences and personality will most likely have a different perspective that will help you make a better data-informed decision. The key being that the group is not just demographically diverse but also cognitively diverse.
We are still learning about the human brain, and we are still evolving as a society to be conscious of our implicit and unconscious bias. Current events have taught us that this is still a topic that is not getting enough emphasis and awareness. Hopefully over the next few years, we will see signs of change: less stories of kids in their formidable years being teased or alienated for being “different” and less stories about racial profiling. From a business perspective, I hope to see companies move the needle with innovation by leveraging a diverse group and embracing different perspectives when making data-informed decisions.