deepstash

Beta

Why we find it difficult to recognise a crisis

Functional stupidity

Organizations often hire smart and talented people, but then create cultures and decision-making processes that do not encourage them to raise concerns or make suggestions. 

Everyone is encouraged to look at the positive interpretations, which leads to "self-reinforcing stupidity."

123 SAVES


This is a professional note extracted from an online article.

Read more efficiently

Save what inspires you

Remember anything

IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Why we find it difficult to recognise a crisis

Why we find it difficult to recognise a crisis

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200409-why-we-find-it-difficult-to-recognise-a-crisis

bbc.com

7

Key Ideas

Missing the signs

There are many known psychological processes that cause individuals and organizations to miss the signs of a coming crisis – even when the signs are noticeable.

One reason is known as the "optimism bias" where people think they have a better than average prospect or are overly optimistic about their own future.

Optimism bias

One possible reason for the "optimism bias" is found in the way we learn new information. People are quicker to change their beliefs when the information is better than expected, compared to information that is worse than expected.

  • If people were told that lockdown would be eased in two weeks, people would quickly update their beliefs. But if experts said it would last longer, people would be less likely to update their beliefs. They will make statements like "I don't really believe it" or "things change."
  • People may underestimate their personal risk of infection.
  • People may fail to adopt precautions like social distancing.

Outcomes bias

Outcomes bias it thinking that because things turned out reasonably good, we can underestimate how close they came to going wrong.

In the past 20 years, there have been two outbreaks of diseases caused by the new viruses. The outbreak of 2003 killed 774 people before it was contained, and the Mers outbreak in 2012 has killed 858. The new virus has far surpassed both.

Confirmation bias

Even if people are given clear evidence that a crisis is unfolding, they may deny the reality of it. 

If people want to believe something, they may only look for evidence to support that point of view, and ignore or dismiss anything that contradicts it.

Groupthink

In uncertain conditions, we look to each other for guidance, even if the people are not the best guides. People are tending to do what they see is the social norm. It may explain panic buying.

At government level and other large organizations, the tendency to conform unconsciously make intelligent and experienced decision-makers stop discussing options and uncritically accept whatever plan they think everyone else is settling on.

Functional stupidity

Organizations often hire smart and talented people, but then create cultures and decision-making processes that do not encourage them to raise concerns or make suggestions. 

Everyone is encouraged to look at the positive interpretations, which leads to "self-reinforcing stupidity."

The best-prepared organizations

Five characteristics of the best-prepared “high-reliability” organizations:

  • They are preoccupied with failure. They think a lot about the ways they could miss their mark.
  • They encourage employees to avoid simplification and embrace complexity.
  • They encourage their employees to tackle problems and not hiding them.
  • They focus on the here on now.
  • They have flexible decision-making structures.

EXPLORE MORE AROUND THESE TOPICS:

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The State Of The Virus

Life around the world is changing dramatically as we practise social distancing, staying away from our friends and avoiding going to our favourite places, or even being unable to work. We already l...

Uncertain Time Frame

Top experts say the virus is going to be circulating for a year or two and can keep infecting people, causing outbreaks until there is a vaccine or treatment to stop it. If we drop the unpleasant and strict measures, the virus outbreak can know no boundaries or limits of infections. It won’t simply go away in two weeks.

Guidelines by WHO
  • Wash your hands regularly, and for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of it properly.
  • Clean and disinfect doors, handles and objects that are touched all the time.
  • Contact a health professional if you have symptoms; fever and a dry cough are most common.
  • DON’T touch your face.
  • DON’T go out of your home.

3 more ideas

Decision-making obstacles
Decision-making obstacles
Psychological reasons why we find decision-making difficult right now:
  • The realness of the present threat: the new virus is really contagious and people are dying from ...
The pandemic and our biases

The threat, uncertainty, and anxiety related to the pandemic lead us to make short-sighted decisions:

  • we crave more information so we are spending a lot of time looking for news updates relating to the virus and its spread. But too much negative news causes stress and distraction.
  • the lack of agency causes people to seek out actions that will make them feel more in control. Early on, this took the form of buying hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol.
Financial decisions

People want to take action quickly, even when inaction might be more prudent.
Faced with anxiety, some are making quick decisions about finances as well and started fear selling their stocks. But this is taking a paper loss in the present that is likely to come back in the future (given the way stock markets have acted in the past).

2 more ideas

Conspiracy Theories
Conspiracy Theories

In the earlier times, conspiracy theories were a convenient way to cover up the inadequacies of the government, and putting a set of helpless people as a scapegoat, cloaking the misdeeds or mismana...

We Love A Good Story

The organic and unpredictable nature of conspiracy theories had led many researchers to investigate the cause of the phenomenon.

  • Successful conspiracy theories always tend to invent a great villain, have a backdrop or a backstory, and a morality lesson that can be easily understood by most.
  • Great stories are by nature more magnetic and appealing than the truth.
  • Human beings think and understand in stories. For thousands of years, fairy tales, legends, anecdotes and mysteries have helped our brains make sense of the world.
Collective Hysteria

Every society has its own, unique anxieties and obsessions, and the conspiracy theories that gain good mileage are the ones that tap into these primal fears.

Example: Many people fear vaccination of the children due to fears that the mass drive to vaccinate such a large population has some ulterior motive, like a mass medical experiment. The dodgy past record of the health care system, and the fact that the vaccination is free of charge, of course, adds fuel to the fire.

6 more ideas