Trump For President? Why Cognitive Biases Make For Really Bad Decision-making

He’s done it again, won a few more U.S. States and completely flummoxed his own party—as well as the American public. And, right now, the Republican Party is questioning whether a Trump endorsement is a good or bad decision.

Conservative intellectuals are the most confused. Pundits, after listening to a typical Trump stream-of-consciousness speech, columnist Charles Krauthammer kidded, “I don’t think I’ve heard such a stream of disconnected ideas since I quit psychiatry 30 years ago,” reports RealClearPolitics.

“It’s March madness,” added John Kasich (via RCP).

“How does the Republican Party solve a problem like Donald Trump?” asks Boris Heersink in the Washington Post.

“Donald Trump’s surprising and ongoing role as the de facto frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination has raised considerable concern among Republican leaders,” concededs Heersink.

“At this point, they may not yet be worried that Trump will actually become their nominee. After all, the history of presidential nominations is full of one-time frontrunners who failed to make it all the way. But the effect Trump has while he remains in the race is problematic for the Republican Party in two ways. In the short term, Trump’s antics drag attention away from other Republican candidates. In the long term, Trump may damage the Republican Party brand regardless of who ends up becoming the nominee.”

And while Trump can afford to flip-flop back and forth on his opinions—after all, his entire campaign is based on shock and awe—there’s not always time for organizations to learn from beta testing or trial and error.

Organizations, like the Republican Party, should realize that a variety of “cognitive biases” often cause us to make speedy and illogical decisions. Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, is an authority on behavioral finance, and he sagely reminds us that novelty, fear, and other emotions can drive us to make decisions that are not—in the end—in our best interest.

U.S. News explains Kahneman’s biases, including:

  • A preference for not thinking about the future, causing us to make short-term decisions that are often not in our best interest
  • A tendency, known as “confirmation bias,” to screen for information consistent with our preconceived thinking
  • Overweighting the impact of potential losses, known as “loss aversion,” which causes us to hold on to stocks that have earned unrealized losses, rather than selling them and recognizing the loss

If any of these biases seem to ring true for you, you may need to reconsider some of your decisions (as a voter or a manager).

As a law firm manager, every day you’re faced with difficult problems to solve, challenges to overcome, and tough decisions to make. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s what can make or break a leader. It’s what can make or break you as a future partner.

And , whether or not you realize it, problem solving is a skill—one that you can hone and practice.

In fact, countless studies have shown that daily exercises for your mind, as well as the mere act of studying, improve your cognitive abilities.

Need help? Take C4CM’s webinar, a “Smart Manager’s Guide to Strategic Problem Solving and Decision Making” on Friday, April 1, 2016, from 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM Eastern time.

The webinar focuses on developing core skills to be a more effective problem solver. You’ll discover new ways to reach better decisions … methods to develop effective solutions … and key strategies to overcome the pitfalls of problem solving.

In this power-packed session you will gain the tools to develop more ideas, make fewer mistakes and reach better decisions. Plus, you will learn:

  • Why decision making is so tough – and key strategies to make it easier
  • How good decision making skills solve problems
  • Benefits of strategic problem solving
  • Typical barriers to decision making and how to overcome them
  • Habits of strategic thinkers
  • Tips for evaluating your thinking and problem solving style
  • Five step process for strategically thinking about business decisions
  • Realizing a decision must be made
  • Clearly defining the problem
  • Deciding on desired outcome
  • Defining stakeholders
  • Communicating the issue and solution

Because the reality is, the upcoming general election may include Republican-nominee Donald Trump—and all of his cognitive biases about America and the way the world works. So, when it comes to the vote for President, what decision will you make?

-WB

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