Home > Risk > Understand your own bias as a practitioner

Understand your own bias as a practitioner

Alexei Sidorenko has shared an interesting article with the title of If cognitive biases in decision making are a given, how do risk managers overcome them?

I recommend it and like the infographic he has included.

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But there’s a different issue, which he has not addressed in his piece: the bias of the practitioner.

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Whatever your role, you have biases. These cognitive biases are likely to affect your own decision-making and the information you provide to leadership.

For example:

  • If you don’t like or respect a department manager, you are more likely (as an auditor) to rate his or her area as high risk and include it in your audit plan. You are also less likely to trust their controls and their response to any issues you might identify. As a risk officer, you might similarly be more likely to question their ability to identify and assess risks and opportunities.
  • If you like a department head, you are more likely to accept without question what they have to say. You are also more likely to listen to them and be willing to partner with them on assessments, corrective actions, and so on.
  • If you have had poor experiences in the past with a particular process or function, that will influence your attitude today – even if your prior experience was with another company.

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We need to understand our own biases and how they affect our thinking, actions, and decisions.

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We need to ensure they do not adversely influence the quality of our work.

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Do you know your own cognitive biases?

Have you made sure they do not affect your work?

I welcome your feedback.

  1. August 16, 2021 at 2:09 PM

    Very true!

  2. John J Brown
    August 16, 2021 at 2:27 PM

    All good points. We also cannot ignore cultural biases rooted in countries, societies, and companies. Perception is reality.

    • Norman Marks
      August 16, 2021 at 2:33 PM

      Good point, John. We may have biases based on people’s skin color, religion, political views, gender, etc, etc, etc

  3. August 17, 2021 at 2:48 AM

    Guilty, I admit – I do have (several) cognitive biases (every human does). I also recognize they may/will affect the way I work and prioritize which I intellectually know is not optimal. Hence I use and have used two avenues of handling these:

    – I have leveraged data wherever I could, and in some cases explicitly searched for data which would “contradict” my ingoing perception. In fact, I have often found it easier to find adverse “proof” than adequately supporting poof. Have I ever been proven dead wrong – oh, yeah and learned from it.

    – I have talked to subject matter experts. Again, I have looked for people I agreed with as well as people who I expect would not agree with my ingoing perceptions. I have asked them to explain their position (often in groups with different approachs/mindsets at the same time), and asked them to find common ground (often in terms of a range of an outcome range). I have often learned and gotten wider perspectives on issues from this process.

    I am dead certain it has not solved the issue of my biases, but I do assume it has reduced any negative effects these may have had.

  4. August 22, 2021 at 1:18 AM

    The topic you raised requires critical thinking and divine Revelation
    KJV)
    Psa 19:12 KJV 12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

  1. August 16, 2021 at 2:11 PM
  2. August 18, 2021 at 9:22 PM

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