Flourishing Culture

Hindsight Bias

October 13, 2017

I was reminded of the “hindsight bias” when I was co-facilitating a session this week. A simple definition of hindsight bias is the age-old expression “hindsight is 20/20.” After the fact, it’s easy to say, "It should have been obvious" or "I knew it all along.” My associate was referencing the hindsight bias and the groundbreaking work being done by Todd Conklin in the field of human performance. I was thinking about how I could apply his work to all organizational settings. Mistakes are made. Things go wrong. How does your organization respond? If it defaults to the hindsight bias, it minimizes the learning. A team or an individual makes a mistake. The organizational response is, “You should have known better.” The shaming associated with this response can be detrimental. It might inhibit people sharing what can be important information. The better approach after an incident or mistake is to ask the question, “How might the choices that were made at the time have seemed totally logical?” Oftentimes, incidents and mistakes are indicative of larger cultural and/or organizational issues. Taking the time to answer this question can help to identify systemic errors and transform a mistake to an opportunity to grow.

Joyce (2)

One Response to Hindsight Bias

  • I have to tell that I am truly impressed with your use and application of various biases to many organizational issues. These biases may seem obvious (after the fact), but recognizing their existence and being able to spot them as they happen is one key to organizational growth. Keep up the good work!

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