On Lazy Thinking.
Recently I’ve been exposed to various examples of lazy thinking, linked explicitly to decision-making, and I was wondering how can one become self-aware of laziness in thinking through one’s own decisions.
The first example of lazy thinking is when we let our emotions cloud our judgement. In particular, we might decide based on how we feel in the moment rather than what is logically the best choice. For example, you might be feeling angry and decide to lash out at someone, rather than taking a step back and thinking about the situation rationally. Alternatively, you might feel sad and depressed, which can lead to decisions that are not in your best interests, such as comfort eating or skipping class. It’s essential to be aware of how our emotions can impact our decision-making and to try to make choices based on logic rather than emotions.
The second example of lazy thinking is when we rely on stereotypes and assumptions. For example, we might assume that all obese people are lazy or that all blonde women are dumb. These stereotypes can lead us to make decisions that are not based on reality but rather on our preconceived notions about groups of people. It’s essential to be aware of our stereotypes and try to see people as individuals rather than groups.
The third example of lazy thinking is when we don’t take the time to think through all the options before making a decision. We might just go with the first option that comes to mind, or the option that is easiest for us. However, if we take the time to consider all the potential options, we might find a better option that we hadn’t considered before. For example, if you’re trying to decide whether to go to the movies or out to eat, you might just choose the first option that comes to mind. However, if you take the time to consider all the potential options, you might realize that there’s a new restaurant that you really want to try. It’s important to take the time to think through all the options before making a decision, in order to ensure that we are making the best choice possible.
Lazy thinking can have disastrous consequences for leaders. It can prevent them from seeing the potential solutions to problems, and it can lead them to make decisions that are not in the best interests of their organizations.
A lack of critical thinking often characterizes lazy thinking. Leaders who engage in lazy thinking may not take the time to examine all of the evidence before making a decision. They may also rely on their intuition or gut feeling rather than on data and analysis.
Lazy thinking can also be caused by confirmation bias, which is when people seek out information that supports their existing beliefs and ignore information that contradicts them. This type of bias can lead leaders to make decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete information.
The first step to overcoming lazy thinking is to become aware of it. When you find yourself deciding without thoroughly examining the evidence, or when you find yourself only considering information that supports your existing beliefs, stop and take a step back.
Then, commit to engaging in more critical thinking. Slow down and take the time to examine all of the evidence before making a decision. Be open to new ideas and perspectives, even if they challenge your existing beliefs. And always look for data and analysis to support your decisions, rather than relying on your intuition.
By overcoming lazy thinking, leaders can make better decisions that are based on logic and evidence. This will help them improve their organisations’ effectiveness and achieve success.
One historical example of lazy thinking with Hitler during the battle of Stalingrad is his decision to send in the Sixth Army, even though he knew they were outnumbered and outgunned. He didn’t take the time to consider all the potential options, and he just went with the first option that came to mind, or perhaps out of pride to take the city with his main adversary’s name. This decision ultimately led to the disastrous defeat at Stalingrad.
The “air bridge” was a plan to fly supplies into the city of Stalingrad during the battle. However, the plan was flawed because it was very difficult to fly in supplies during the winter conditions. The weather was so bad that many planes crashed, and the few who made it through had to unload their cargo in the middle of enemy territory.
Back-of-the-napkin calculations can be helpful in figuring out if something is feasible or not. In the case of the air bridge to Stalingrad, it would have been easy to see that it would not work based on a quick calculation. A simple calculation based on the known number of soldiers and the average requirement for food and communication would have shown that the plan would not work.
This was likely because Hitler wanted the air bridge to work — he was keen to believe that it would.
Lazy thinking can often be the result of cognitive biases, which are mental shortcuts that we take to save time and effort. These shortcuts can lead us to make inaccurate decisions because they cause us only to consider certain pieces of information while ignoring others.
One example of a cognitive bias is the sunk cost fallacy, which is when we make a decision based on the money that we have already invested in something rather than on its potential return. This fallacy can lead us to continue investing in a project even when it is no longer worth it, because we feel like we have already put so much into it.
The sunk cost fallacy is often seen in business, when companies continue to invest in a project even though it is no longer profitable. They do this because they have already invested so much money and time into the project and feel like they can’t give up on it now.
The sunk cost fallacy is a cognitive bias that can lead to suboptimal decision-making. To avoid this bias, leaders should focus on the potential return of an investment rather than the money that has already been put into it.
Lazy thinking can also result from confirmation bias, when we seek information that confirms our existing beliefs while ignoring evidence that disproves them. This bias can lead us to make poor decisions because we do not consider all the available information.
For example, suppose you believe that a particular stock will go up in value. In that case, you might only look at the information that supports this belief while ignoring anything that contradicts it. This can lead you to make bad investment decisions.
To avoid confirmation bias, leaders should actively seek out information that disagrees with their existing beliefs. They should also be open to changing their beliefs based on new evidence.
Lazy thinking can have severe consequences for leaders and their organizations. Leaders can avoid making costly mistakes by taking the time to think through decisions carefully. They can also create a more positive work environment and build better relationships with others.
I think another key thing to note is when to make a decision, based on the type of decision that you are making. ASAP means you should make a decision as soon as possible. ALAP means you should decide after you have all the information you need.
There are also two different types of decision-making: reactive and proactive. Reactive decision-making is when you decide in response to something that has already happened. Proactive decision-making is when you decide in anticipation of something that might happen.
Reactive decision-making is often associated with crisis management, while proactive decision-making is associated with strategic planning. Leaders should try to be proactive rather than reactive whenever possible.
Lazy thinking can have severe consequences for leaders and their organizations. Leaders can avoid making costly mistakes by taking the time to think through decisions carefully, being aware of their cognitive biases, and making proactive rather than reactive decisions.