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Safety is an Outcome of Bias in Organizational Decision Making
Human and Organizational Performance (H&OP)

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.”
-- Stephen R. Covey

Up to half of the persons watch the above 90 second video, fail the test. This is because the viewer is conditioned to count the passes from the people in white. They have to act fast to pass the test. There is no time to analyze and rationalize what they are seeing in the video. That system analysis and rational of thinking is way too slow to pass the test.

So, the viewer relies on the intuitive part of their mind that is fast, efficient and built on memory so it does not require slow, expensive thinking. The intuitive part of their mind that has them on autopilot most of the time. The viewer completely focuses on counting the passes from the players in white. It works, the viewer correctly counts the number of passes from players in white. The viewer gets the desired result.

But at what cost? Or rather in Human and Organizational Performance (H&OP) terms what was the performance? Remember, Performance = Behavior + Actions. If the gorilla represents an evolving hazard that could harm the players, then what was the performance when relying on intuitive, automatic thinking behavior? We know the Result "players correctly counted, don't worry about anything else, mission accomplished", but what about the performance? There is a price when using fast, efficient, intuitive decision making. That price is that the decisions are often irrational and biased. When an Organization makes decisions this way it usually leads to bad outcomes.

When an Organization looks back it can't understand how it missed something that was so obviously dangerous to its workforce, to its customers. "We didn't know..." The truth is there was no time to know, no time was given to "think", rationalize and analyze before making a decision. Making rational, unbiased, careful decisions requires a lot of thinking energy. When it comes to assessing the risks of hazards there can be no shortcuts, no quick thinking. When in the face of hazards and doubt appears, stop when unsure and take the time to rationally think it through. Its no wonder the best way to control hazards is to find and remove them from the system.

√ Hazard Identified
√ Risk Assessed
√ Decision Made
Unfortunately, irrational thinking. due to bias, clouded the Organization's ability to assess risk and the decision caused harm.
Cognitive Bias Codex

Ref: Jm3, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons