Posted by: terryhowe | March 1, 2010

Heuristic Traps

There are certain heuristics  that we use to guide our decision making for everyday life and in risky conditions these heuristics may have us make poor decisions.  These traps are extracted from the Volken, Schell, Wheeler backcountry ski book, but they apply to some extent to business decisions.  According to Ian McCammon there are six common heuristic traps:

  • Familiarity: No matter how familiar you are with an area, if it is avalanche terrain, it can slide.
  • Social Proof: There are others at the trailhead, so it must be safe.
  • Commitment: Do not commit to a goal before all the data is available.
  • Scarcity: Do not rush to a decision ignoring important data.
  • Acceptance: Engage in activities for acceptance by our peers ignoring dangers.
  • Expert Halo: Tendency to assign the expert moniker to someone within the group who may not fully deserve that designation.

Commitment is dangerous for me because I tend to stay committed to goals no matter how ridiculous they end up being.  I also tend to be a bit reluctant to commit to things, but in business it is good at times to commit to a goal even if you are not sure it is correct and be willing to change your mind later.


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