Beware the ‘Bias for Action’

Having a ‘bias for action’ means not afraid to make decisions and take action, even when (especially when) you’re faced with uncertainty.
If you’re prone to “act first, think later” behaviour, then I’d recommend taking a look at Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Professor Richard Rumelt.
In the book, Prof. Rumelt makes the important point that “The most common path to success is not raw innovation but skilfully riding a wave of change". In other words, don’t leap into action for action’s sake as you run the very real risk of incorrect diagnosis and tackling visible symptoms of a problem rather than the underlying cause. 
Thinking through the ‘real’ business problem you’re trying to solve requires diagnosis and close examination of underlying issues, as well as questioning your assumptions. The ‘bias for action’ is like any other cognitive bias in that it pollutes our thinking. The tendency to dive straight into solution mode creates the risk of causing more havoc.
As you look forward to 2021 or simply trying to close out a challenging 2020, don’t mistake ambitious goals and effort for strategy. A robust strategy starts with a robust diagnosis which then informs a direct of travel (or ‘guiding policy’) and, in turn, a coherent set of actions.

bias for action

Colin Gray | Head of Marketing Strategy and Behavioural Economics


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