Never Go With Your Gut | Gleb Tsipursky

Summary of: Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Avoid Terrible Advice, Cognitive Biases, and Poor Decisions)
By: Gleb Tsipursky


In the hypercompetitive modern business world, relying on gut instincts can often lead to disastrous decisions. In ‘Never Go With Your Gut,’ Gleb Tsipursky explores the cognitive biases that steer us astray, providing actionable insights on overcoming these tendencies and embracing a more analytical, methodical decision-making approach. The book delves into the interaction between the automatic and intentional systems in our brains, examining various biases, their origins, and their impacts on decision quality. Exploring a range of topics including risk-taking, loss aversion, and the dangers of individualism in the workplace, this summary offers valuable lessons for managers and executives looking to avert costly mistakes and drive organizational success.

Trust Your Gut? Think Again

Acting on intuition can often lead to poor business decisions, and a methodical approach is crucial in achieving desired outcomes. The prefrontal cortex houses the “intentional system,” which supports rational problem-solving and learning rather than the knee-jerk responses generated by the amygdala, or the “automatic system.” By recognizing the need for a decision, collecting information, establishing criteria, conceiving solutions, evaluating options, executing the chosen solution, and assessing and tweaking it thereafter, individuals can successfully navigate business decisions and be equipped to receive suggestions from independent observers. While it may be tempting to trust your gut, it is vital to understand that the amygdala-generated instinctive response can often spell disaster and that a well-thought-out decision-making process is essential.

Overcoming Cognitive Biases

In “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” the author, Daniel Kahneman, highlights the impact of cognitive biases on our decision making. Biases caused by our evolution tend to influence us to favor the status quo, undervalue others’ assets, overvalue our own, and avoid taking risks. These biases can lead to poor choices in modern business decisions, including missed opportunities and unnecessary risks. However, the good news is that we can overcome these tendencies through debiasing. By employing techniques like postponing decisions, using data-driven analysis, reflecting on past experiences, and setting up a corporate policy for decision-making, we can avoid being influenced by our biases and make better decisions. Simple techniques like meditation are also helpful in increasing self-awareness and reducing the impact of cognitive biases in decision-making.

Common Attribution Biases

The human mind tends to make quick judgments about people and groups, leading to common attribution biases. The fundamental attribution error refers to the tendency to attribute someone’s actions to their personality instead of external factors. The group attribution error leads to stereotyping. Both biases contribute to the ultimate attribution error, where undesirable group traits are attributed to internal characteristics. To counter these biases, it’s important to refrain from making snap judgments and try to view situations from other perspectives. The empathy gap bias and false consensus effect also have a significant impact on how we judge others. To avoid falling into these traps, it’s important to seek objective views and broaden our perspective to understand the underlying factors that contribute to a person’s behavior.

Overcoming Cognitive Biases in Leadership

The book encourages leaders to overcome their cognitive biases that distort decision-making, teamwork, and opportunities. Many CEOs suffer from confirmation bias, belief bias, and the ostrich effect. They dismiss contradictory information and refuse to acknowledge their errors, leading to disastrous results like the bankruptcy of Barings Bank. Additionally, individualism causes leaders to claim successes as their own while blaming others for failures due to the self-serving bias. The illusory truth effect makes people believe statements based on their frequency, regardless of their truthfulness. The mere exposure effect normalizes threatening or new things, while the halo effect and horns effect overemphasize either positive or negative traits of individuals. To counteract these biases, leaders must do their due diligence, offer employees incentives to present contrary opinions, change perspectives, and build trust. Finally, providing positive reinforcement helps accept new viewpoints and move forward.

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