How often do you catch yourself looking for only those opinions that agree with your own? That, my friend, would be confirmation bias: only looking/listening to those who agree with you. While that seems to be a time honored tradition in politics, it is not good in business.

Think about the last team meeting you ran or attended where there was more than one potential path forward. Was there a robust discussion of pluses and minuses for each course, or did everyone carefully word their suggestions until the leader expressed an opinion and then suddenly everyone gathered around that option? Or worse, no one said much of anything knowing that in the past, their opinion was not highly valued in the decision-making.

This may happen more than you think in your organization. If you are in senior leadership, you probably got there because it was your idea in the first place and you worked hard to start a great organization. Or, time after time, you made better decisions than your peers and were rewarded for your insights. Or, for some, you were the best choice among a small group with the same last name. In your desire to move fast and beat the competition, you may have cut out needed input from your team.

One way to change this, would be to have meetings clearly identified as brainstorming or strategy meetings. Others, identified as decision making/execution meetings. And, if you must do update meetings in person/on zoom, make them stand-ups that last no longer than 15 minutes. Jeff Bezos at Amazon required that everyone have read all the material and be ready to make a decision at the meeting.

For those of you who like to think out loud in front of a group (you extroverts), find yourself a partner or small group and make it clear that is the purpose of the meeting. Before I knew about extroverts/introverts, I used to take long walks with my Dad/boss while he thought out loud. I got lots of input and insight before he took it the leadership team.He got my buy-in. Pretty smart, eh? Another tactic would be to ask your team to play devil’s advocate once the decision is close to made, and list all the reasons the strategy might fail. This gives the team one more time to point out any downsides and will make for a better execution.

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