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Biased Brains Make Bad Mistakes: Tips for Project Managers

Biased decisions have been the downfall of many projects, but the problem is there’s no way to prevent them. They are a part of human nature, and as such the best we can do is identify them before they take full effect.  Here is a list of biases community manager Mary Prescott identified on the blog

  • Loss Aversion: Studies show that loss affects us twice as much as gain. That’s why gamblers have to fight the urge to keep playing until they break even. Similarly, management often insists on sticking to the plan when things are out of control. Don’t let this happen to you.
  • Status Quo Bias: This can also be known as fear of change; and when one person has it, it spreads like wildfire.
  • The Optimism Bias, Naive Cynicism, and Negativity Bias: Obviously, negativity is a bad thing, but too much optimism isn’t good either. It prevents rational thinking, and leads to as much trouble as being overly negative.
  • In-Group Bias: People will make excuses for those within their own group, but automatically hate negative actions of another party. The best thing to do is attempt to expand your group so everyone feels included, and no one is overly critical.
  • The Bandwagon Effect: If 75% of people answer a question wrong, chances are the other 25% will also, even if they know the right answer. Make sure your team feels comfortable enough in meetings to call mistakes as they see them.  


About Rachel Ginder

Rachel Ginder was a staff writer for CAI’s Accelerating IT Success and joined the team in 2013. She also helped with social media and research.

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