In his introduction to the « Generic Error Modelling System » (see figure 1 below) in the book “Human Error”, James Reason states the following:
« humans, if given a choice, would prefer to act as context specific pattern recognisers rather than attempting to calculate or optimise…. »
…The key feature of GEMS is the assertion that, when confronted with a problem, human beings are strongly biased to search for and find a prepackaged solution at the “Rules Based” Level 2 before resorting to the far more effortful Knowledge Based level, even where the latter is demanded at the outset. In relation to the figure below, this means that they are inclined to exit from the decision box for Level 2 along the Yes (affirmative) route. They do this by matching (selected) aspects of the local state information (the problem configuration) to the situational elements of stored problem-handling rules of the kind: IF (situation) THEN (system state), IF (system state) THEN (remedial action).
Only when people become aware that successive cycling around this rule – based route is failing to offer a satisfactory solution will the move down to the Knowledge Based level take place. However, even here problem solvers are likely, at least initially, to be using “workspace” processing (heuristics or mental shortcuts) to search for cues that remind them of previously successful rules which could then be adapted to the present situation…
With considerably more humour, in chapter 7 of his ground-breaking book “Thinking, fast and slow” , Daniel Kahneman refers to a line by the famous comedian Danny Kaye who, speaking of a woman he dislikes says, “Her favourite position is beside herself and her favourite sport is jumping to conclusions”
“Jumping to conclusions” is central to the “Fast, System 1” thinking behind 95 – 97% of our decision making and while it is efficient if the conclusions are likely to be correct and the costs of a mistake acceptable, it is risky when the situation is unfamiliar and the stakes are high. These are the situations in which intuitive errors caused by heuristics and cognitive biases are highly probable but they can be prevented by resorting to deliberate “Slow, System 2” mental processes.
For an overview of the characteristics of System1 (Fast), System 2 (Slow) brain processes see figures 2 & 3 below.
If this resonates with you, you should not be surprised to discover that in the study « The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution » published by the World Economic Forum in January 2016, Complex Problem Solving , followed by Critical Thinking come top of the list of the core skills required of managers & professionals as we move ever further into the 21st century. Why? Because we live in an ever more complex and interdependant world. Given this, no matter how sophisticated the systems you use, if you don’t have people who are aware of our intrinsic cognitive limitations and who are capable of exploiting the ever more data available to us by asking the right questions, the payback on your investments in ever more technology will always be disappointing.
As it happens, embracing the following quote attributed to Albert Einstein since its beginnings in 2008:
“If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”
…CoThink has always based its methods, training and other problem solving services on the conviction that knowing how to ask the right questions in a structured, rational and rigorous manner, is the key ingredient of any robust problem solving approach.
It is in this mindset that CoThink proposes to help people acquire highly developed problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Furthermore, applying rational thinking to its own activities and given the challenges we are all facing with the very high probability of dramatic climate change over the next few decades should we fail to change our living habits, CoThink now proposes most of its advanced problem solving training online: e-learning for first level training and skills development, webinars for more advanced, hands-on training.
In this manner, we aim to make highly affordably advanced problem solving and decision making training available to as broad an audience as possible but also eliminate most, if not all, of the travel typically associated with intra and intercompany training. (*)
For further details about our online training services (available in English, French & Dutch) , download our pdf: Cothink advanced online problem solving training
If you like the concept, and even if you are not yet ready to take the plunge, we would much appreciate your vote
(*) Transportation presently represents ~ 14% of CO2 emissions worldwide and ~ 28% of CO2 emissions in the US and the EU. In the absence of mitigating measures, worldwide CO2 emissions generated by transportation are expected to increase by 60% by 2050