What does one see in one half of a torn picture lying trivially on a work table? A girl nervously smiling next to what is unmistakably a white kitten and that is only half the story. As one draws closer, one sees other half of the picture and one is taken aback by what is a ferocious white lion next to the kitten or oh well, it isn’t a kitten anymore. Is it? It is rather a white lion cub. How foolish of one at the first place to have reached such a conclusion that it was a kitten? Or yikes, is that how the brain infers after all?
Anchoring bias specifically, is a response to brain’s need to make decisions from incomplete information to carry out day to day activities. Bias exists to make sense of the information around us and make sensible decisions. Every time, one sees a white kitten, one would panic otherwise. It is important to observe a girl (man to be less gender biasedJ) next to a seemingly cute white cat and infer it as a cat. It is important not to panic every time thinking there might be a white tiger next to it. Of course, it comes with a penalty called accuracy.
By having biases and completing the incomplete information, we sacrifice accuracy. In the example above, it is a white lion cub (and therefore our accuracy went for a toss) and in real life situations, having access to that level of accuracy of information could have saved one’s life. But hey, accuracy comes with a penalty too. Why would you labor thinking out all the possible animals and imagine that a cute looking kitten on the doorway might be a lion cub? It makes sense to have some biases to be more practical, but nevertheless dangerous sometimes too. How dangerous and futile is it to complete the information of being rich with happiness and endlessly work towards it? We will find out soon below.
Consider a wildlife forensic expert. His education removes some biases (as does all education, in general) and he would immediately infer from the first half of the picture that it was a lion cub. He has more information, thanks to his education and experience which reduces bias of this kind. Welcome the expert. To have experts is to make more accurate decisions in any organization or any situation. And how to make better decisions when experts are absent? Welcome the so called intuitive leaders, experts in none, but have inbuilt biases which discern patterns from incomplete information and make mostly reasonable and sometimes extraordinary predictive decisions based on biases of hunches alone (You can say they are experts with owning remarkable biases). Put in some leaders and some experts and you have a fairly solid organization to make accurate decisions when information is available with the helps of experts and fair predictions on the basis of biases when information is unavailable with the help of leaders.
So what’s new? The trade-off between accuracy and biases is well known. This time, I welcome the future cyborg. He has all the information on the planet in his brain and sensors and processing times zillion times sharper. He has all the information and therefore he makes 100% right decisions every time in a fraction of a second. Why biases, when you can compute from all the information every time? Experts who built this cyborg, felt so much less knowledgeable in comparison to the cyborg and leaders who hired and yes the same leaders lost their jobs in this role or they became cyborgs themselves.
Good leaders traditionally have been intuitive leaders who made good predictive decisions with incomplete information with their inbuilt set of biases from vast experience in a wide array of situations. Here is the new definition. Good leaders are cyborgs with the best computing capacity J If cyborg is too strong a word (the world’s first cyborg is already out there and therefore is within our reach) an external supercomputer will do too.
One final thought. I previously asked how dangerous and futile is it to complete the information of being rich with happiness and endlessly work towards it? It might not be dangerous and futile after all and it might be a step towards surviving the future itself. Save yourselves to buy some expensive computers and become cyborgs 🙂 and predicting on the same lines rich enough to achieve mortality :). Who says happiness? We are talking survival here 😉
Disclaimer: Rich will survive and therefore we need to become rich is very much subject to many counterarguments and I fully appreciate the same, especially the immortal soul spiritual counterargument (what with support from quantum theory increasingly gathering scientific voices of an illusory world tending towards such explanations) and the above blog is meant to be in no disregard to such spiritual theories/otherwise.