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G&F Book Club: Chapter 6

G&F's book club covered Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman in our 6th meeting. The book suggestion and discussion were led by Adam.

Why Thinking, Fast and Slow?

Almost everything we do at Gray & Fick can be filtered through our Core Values. Reading the book Thinking, Fast and Slow is just the latest example of our team continuing to follow through on our Core Value of Commitment to Lifelong Learning. Thinking, Fast and Slow gave our team the opportunity to learn more about our cognitive intuition and heuristics.

Our day-to-day work involves identifying and solving problems. Some are extremely complex, while others are relatively routine. Understanding better how the mind works and when to trust our instincts has a lot of advantages when working through complex problems and lets us watch for unconscious biases invading our routine actions.

Most of the book revolves around the idea (which won the author a Nobel Prize) that:

“judgement can be produced in two ways (and in various mixtures of the two): a rapid, associative, automatic, and effortless intuitive process (System 1), and a slower, rule-governed, deliberate, and effortful process (System 2)" - Daniel Kahneman

Dr. Kahneman uses countless examples to show how our cognitive bias often tricks System 1, which can lead to mistakes if not caught by System 2. Our group discussed in depth their fascination with several biases that the book identified and discussed. Our top 5 were:

  • Possibility Effect: When an outcome is possible but still improbable, people tend to overestimate its chance of occurring.

  • Planning Fallacy: The planning fallacy is a phenomenon in which predictions about how much time will be needed to complete a future task display an optimism bias and underestimate the time needed. Funny enough, much of our internal project management system is built around this bias and works with the fact that humans are intrinsically optimistic at planning!

  • Availability Heuristic: The availability heuristic, also known as availability bias, is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person's mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method, or decision.

  • Confirmation Bias: People tend to look for justification rather than the truth by looking for evidence that will support their opinion and trust, although it’s not necessarily right or wrong.

  • Overconfidence Bias: We tend to trust ourselves more than we should, especially in intuitive and subjective tasks, and therefore overestimate our capabilities as objective decision-makers. This can extend so far as to allow us to feel we have greater capacity than others in general, even when we do not.

The Takeaways

A single question was asked during our discussion that provides all the information necessary to conclude what the group thought of the book:

  • Question: Now that you know more about the way the cognitive mind works and all the cognitive heuristic biases that are rooted in human nature, do you trust your intuition more or less than you did before having read this book?

  • Answer: A resounding NO! However, this does contain an ever-present caveat of “BUT I now know what I didn’t know and will be looking out for the many cognitive heuristic biases going forward!”

G&F Book Club: Chapter 7

The next book we will be reading is Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo. She was the first intern in 2006 at a (then) small company known as Facebook, where she eventually advanced to the role of vice president of product and design. Along the way, she learned a lot of valuable lessons about management and people, many of which are included in Making of a Manager.


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