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Little Find

Turn the volume down

You know that errors of judgment really exist – that’s why you ask for a second medical opinion, or even a third, if the first two are different. This variability of results, or noise, is well known: Two judges won’t necessarily deliver the same judgment in the same case. Yet it’s a phenomenon that’s wildly underestimated.

An investment bank, which wanted to test variability among its staff, made each of its analysts work on the same case study. The recommendations they came up with varied by 44 percent. even though they were equipped with standardized methods to assess a company’s valuation. 

How can you guard against this degree of variability?  

  • Make sure that any decision-making process begins with a period of individual reflection before you compare and contrast different opinions. Include as many people as possible in the process, and keep an eye out for authority bias, which prompts people to follow the direction taken by their leader. 
  • Identify and call on individuals who have developed good judgment. It’s a genuine skill, and these people are more precise and less prone to bias. 
  • Equip yourself with comparative evaluation grids: Camille is good at negotiating, but where does she stand relative to Laurent? 

Finally, use artificial intelligence. Algorithms have the merit of being constant. 

To go further

« Sounding the alarm on system noise »

Daniel Kahneman and Olivier Sibony (McKinsey Quarterly, May 2021).

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Dominique Fidel
Published by Dominique Fidel
After completing her studies in civilizations and working 10 years in corporate communications, Dominique now divides her time between popularizing science, institutional communications, literary reviews, and Business Digest.