Trends: pessimism and optimism


Our opinions are the result of years to pay attention to information that confirms what we believe, ignoring information that challenge our preconceived notions.

We are, some more than others, fruit of an education and learning based on choices between Yes and No and therefore we bowed to some traps in decision when there is risk and reward.

Our brain deceives us with what guard. He feels attracted over long distances when they mean big rewards.

Decision makers in companies should be aware of the importance of some psychological tendencies that they face, when is time to decide. 

Today Arie Goldshlager (on twitter @ ariegoldshlager) has shared an article “How Potential Breakthrough Offerings get Killed Off”, where you can read:

“Two implications. First, be sure to make assumptions and judgments with some depth of analysis. Beware of snap decisions based on instinct or superficial metaphors. Second, be willing to accept some risk. The future is also hard to forecast. But the upside of the creation of a new category or subcategory can be strategically important and can justify the acceptance of risk. It can provide a business platform for the future and a profit flow that can support strategic growth. A firm needs to take care that a bias toward doom and gloom does not too quickly result in the wrong decision”.

The examples that are presented in this article are relevant and well chosen to justify these two implications. I am not saying that this is a confirmation bias.

We know that today, fear and pessimism are not legal. We live in an age that happiness is the more we want, and nobody admire people who are afraid. It’s easy to ridicule anyone who points to the dangers ahead and sort them as pessimistic.

People over the centuries developed a biological capacity of fear, because helped them survive, which allowed them to pass their genes to future generations. This helps keep us resistant to change and on alert for many dangers we face.

While this ability to be alert is good, on the other hand it doesn’t allow, frequently, giving great steps.

Our innate ability to be scared faces another strong human characteristic that is also the trend towards the optimism.

It exists in us a bias towards hope when it comes to potential threats on our environment. However most of us underestimate the difficulties we face, as well as overestimate our ability to respond to these difficulties.

Some results of questionnaires conducted with students on the eve of integration into the world of work show that 70% of respondents feel more able than others to lead innovation teams. Is clearly an excess of optimism.

Leaders of innovation may be subject to these deviations and need to rely on the risks and obstacles that will face to lead a project. Many of them do so rationally do not leave the starting point, however the self-confidence makes putting and, in case of failure, they justified over time or with external factors.

For the most part the victories of the optimism resulting in a speculative bubble and the victories of pessimism result in heavy losses of opportunity.

It is in the balance between the various forces that lays the path to success:

Intuition isn’t more than a response fruit of experience but in which decisions are not easy to explain.

Impulsiveness is an absolute necessity to get immediate answers or results and that needs to be very well managed.

Cognitive bias must be seen as realities and need care in its use.

Cognitive shortcuts require a delicate balance of self-awareness.

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