Friday, March 23, 2012

The Tendency to Jump to Conclusions



We live in an increasingly complex world, one that is competitive and sometimes harsh. A poor decision now can mean many negative consequences in the future.

What constantly surprises me is that in all of the organizations I've worked in, people (including myself) have the tendency to jump to a response before they consider the problem. Why do people tend to do this? There are probably many reasons- it is easy, we think we know the right answer, we are conceited or overly-confident, etc. When we jump to a response, we might sometimes be right, but we can very often be very wrong.

The Importance of Analysis
To make good decisions in business, in instructional design, and in our lives, we need to analyze what is happening before we jump to our responses. The capacity to consider a problem from different perspectives, to gather data on the nature of the problem, and to critically analyze that data are absolutely vital, and if we do not analyze the problem, we might end up making these common mistakes:
  • fail to articulate the actual problem and work to solve a pseudo-problem.
  • fail to articulate our goal.
  • overlook crucially important data that could help us solve the problem or fill the need.
Instead of jumping to conclusions, we should ask the following questions and gather data and research deeply to answer them:
  • what really is the problem? What is the root cause of the problem?
  • what do we want to happen? what is our goal?
  • what data are there to help us answer these questions correctly?
By truly analyzing a problem and articulating what we want to have happen, we will be much more likely to respond in an effective way. So, what do you think? Is there something I am missing? Why do we tend to jump to conclusions without thinking through all of the issues clearly?
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