Here’s a Book Review for you. I read it over the weekend and found it very informative.
It’s Blunder – Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions by Zachary Shore. Here’s what I learnt:
Have you ever wondered why a roomful of the smartest folks could make the stupidest mistakes? The Bay of Pigs invasion, the Exxon Valdez, and of course… Cherry Coke? What are the reasons why dumb mistakes happen? Here are some that are covered by Zachary Stone, the Author.
1When solving a simple or complex problem, sometimes, the wrong cause is identified.
Like the old story of the scientist who shouts “JUMP!” at a frog and it hops a step. He then cuts off both legs and then shouts “JUMP!” but it doesn’t. He then concludes that “The frog hears with his legs.” Identifying the wrong cause often leads to bad decisions.
When there is failure to consider that the problem at hand is deeper and more complex than what it seems at the surface. Like the US’s approach to Iraq and Afghanistan – simply thinking that importing Democracy to these countries will lead to stabilisation, peace and prosperity. There are other local factors at hand which they had failed to consider.
Sometimes, there is a temptation to over-generalise different issues and assume that what has worked so perfectly before would work again under similar circumstances.
An example peculiar to Singapore would be the Government’s idea that the Free-Market knows best, hence the race to privatise the Media (MediaCorp and MediaWorks) and even Public Transport (SMRT – the Train Operator) among many other institutions.
Privatisation may have worked for other services before, but the Government had to untangle these two initiatives at the cost of millions of taxpayers’ dollars.
#4. Info-Mania – Decision-making sometimes goes awry when leaders (a) hoard all the information to themselves, thinking that ‘Knowledge is Power’ (Info-Misers), or (b) When they refuse to accept any external information that might counter their preconceived notions (Info-voiders).
A perfect example would be Iraqi Dictator, Saddam Hussein who refused to share any tactical information with his Generals and refused to listen to any intelligence he received from his field officers… and we all know how that turned out.
#5. Static Cling
Refusing to change one’s ideas and beliefs, stubbornly clinging on to ideas that had worked previously amidst a changing landscape.
Did you know that Kodak (the film company) actually invented the first Digital Camera back in 1975?
The bosses refused to understand how anyone would want to view their pictures on a TV screen and promptly shut down this ‘useless’ invention.
Knowing the potential pitfalls to bad decision-making allows us to consciously avoid making them. This is a book with brimming with great examples and is easy to read.
You can get the book at Amazon here!