Consider What You Don’t See - Deepstash

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Survivorship Bias: The Tale of Forgotten Failures

Consider What You Don’t See

We can overcome survivorship bias by considering the things that started on the same path but didn't make it.  Try and figure out why they failed. If you're going to do something, make sure you are fully informed.

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The Survivorship Bias
The Survivorship Bias

We tend to be interested in the success stories of many. We love the encouragement it provides us, but we often overlook the fact that most of these success stories have undergone through many failures.

Survivorship bias is when we concentrate on the people and the things that passed through a selection process and experienced a form of success. This process tends to overlook those who did not make it through and almost always leads to false conclusions.

The effects of survivorship bias

When we ignore the logical error of the stories and advice we hear it deceives us into believing that past failures are not adequate enough to be considered.

This bias induces people to see correlation in sheer coincidences.

A great example is when the U.S. Military tried to reduce aircraft casualties back in WWII. They analyzed the planes that got back safely but never the ones that didn't. They concluded that they should increase armor in the wings and the tails of the planes, but not the engine.

Survivorship bias in business

We must remember that most people do not become rich and famous. Most leaps of faiths are miscalculated. This does not mean that we should stop trying, instead we should remain to have a realistic understanding of reality.

Most entrepreneurs don't actually know what they're doing. There isn't a lot of them who have a detailed or a perfected plan to follow. Still, we try to "copy" their ways so that we can probably achieve what they have achieved.

Biases...
Biases...

... specifically cognitive biases, are your unchecked tendencies to make decisions or take actions in an irrational way. 

Instead of making decisions based on facts and data, you are more prone to base your decisions on unconscious errors that lead to a distorted judgment of the world. These biases ultimately affect your relationships, work, and worldview.

Biases = shortcuts for processing information

The brain creates shortcuts in order to make fast decisions when it hits information or inspiration overload

These shortcuts form unconscious biases so it’s easier for your brain to categorize information and make quick judgments over and over again.

Self-serving Bias
It causes you to claim your successes and ignore your failures. 

This means that when something good happens, you take the credit, but when something bad happens, you blame it on external factors.

Self-serving bias may manifest at work when you receive critical feedback. Instead of keeping an open mind, you may put up a defense when your manager or team member is sharing feedback or constructive criticism.

Failure
Failure

Success is sought after by most, while failure is looked down upon, even seen as something shameful.

More than success, it is our failures, errors and rejections that provide us with better learnings, and pathways towards eventual success, if we study them.

The Ostrich Effect

Once we have invested our time, effort and resources in something, we tend to avoid correcting ourselves in real-time if we are off-track.

Inversely, when people engage in mental contrasting, anticipating the upcoming obstacles, they tend to succeed.

Failure Is A Goldmine

Sharing information on failure among peers means less work overall, and better success for the entire team, as team members do not have to reinvent the wheel by making the same mistake to learn from it.

People do not share failure as it hurts their self-esteem, but if we keep the personal equation aside, a lot can be gained from the collective knowledge of what didn’t work.