What was I thinking! I knew that! Increase Perception and Reduce Mental Decision Errors (1)


Mental errors are the bane of decision making. You always have to pay for them twice. The first time is the poor outcome and the second is knowing you could do better. There are techniques you can use to sharpen perception and reduce errors. In a couple of posts that will be later be linked, at least 5 different techniques will be described. All of these are easily remembered and straightforward to apply. Some methods will be familiar and others new. The idea is to build awareness of the methods so that people at least have the option of using them.

Background–Mental Errors

The single most significant action to improve performance is to eliminate mental decision errors.

Mental decision errors are incorrect decisions that can directly lead to failures, inefficiencies, mistakes, or sub-optimal results. The error is considered mental, when with available facts together with the knowledge and capability of the individual, a more appropriate direction could have been reasonably selected. Excluded from this category of mental errors are situations in which required information was not available or that the analysis was beyond the expected capability of the individual.

During a review of a disappointing result, the recognition of a better approach is often met with comments such as “I knew that!” or “I could have done that” or “What was I thinking”. People have been repeating these exclamations since spelling tests in grade school!

The realization is that with a little more focus or concentration on the available facts, a different direction could have been chosen and a significantly better result been obtained.

However, the remedial action to correct the cause of the disappointing result too often addresses the specific failure. (Think about the number of times you had to copy the correct spelling of the offending words in those tests.) This approach has limited value since the same situation rarely presents itself again. Here, the emphasis is on general techniques that can be applied to new situations as they are encountered.

During a day, people encounter unique situations and make decisions continuously. Although most of these decision actions do not have significant consequences, experience has shown that some do have far reaching adverse results. The trick is to provide tools that will both allow the individual to routinely bring focus to any routine decisions and to increase the baseline level of performance in areas such listening, observation, and problem formulation.

All of these tools to increase perception are really parallel activities that are complementary to the task being done. The parallel activity adds the energy needed to focus more strongly on the task at hand. The potential benefits, both in achieved results and personal satisfaction, can be an extremely motivating force to give these methods a try.

That’s the background, detailed examples are in the links below or find them in the. Category: Thinking/Perception Skills:

(2) Use of Working Theories

(3) Listening for Consequences

(4) Put Aside the First Idea

(5) Eliminating (Cognitive) Mental Bias Decision Errors 





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