August 1, 2022
July 20, 2022

The "Big 5" People Challenges: Resilience

Dry tree in the desert

Operational resilience can mean many things. In the context of a workforce the term is often used synonymously with employee wellbeing, but that is not how we think of it. Wellbeing is one of the foundations of motivation and as such, it clearly has a role to play in making individuals resilient, as we saw in our article on sustainable performance. However, in this article, we are concerned with the resilience of operating procedures, specifically, we mean the ability to continue to make effective decisions under pressure and then execute them.

In the modern workplace, one of the greatest enemies of decision making is information overload. It is like a silent assassin which creeps up on us. We like the idea of having more information to make decisions with, but in reality, our brains can’t handle the volume we are subjected to.

Research has shown that the amount of information we use to make decisions follows an inverted-U shape (Chewning & Harrell, 1990). Initially, as the amount available to us increases, we use more inputs in our decisions. But, beyond a certain point, the number of factors that we use in our decisions starts to decline. Once we become truly overloaded, we only use only a very small percentage of the available information in our choices.

Information overload creates a feeling of unease or dissonance in our minds which triggers a biological stress response. When this happens, we try to create some sort of order to ease the feeling and to do this we have developed a series of decision short cuts, tricks and rules of thumb which we call heuristics. Heuristics can be highly effective, but they can also leave us open to cognitive biases and bad decisions; another study showed that decision makers under conditions of information overload reduced the number of analytical steps in a decision task by as much as 70% (Schofield, 2019).

The volume of information available to has increased dramatically. In 2018 it was estimated that 90% of the world’s data had been created in the preceding two years (Marr 2018). This means we are constantly in a mild state of information overload and therefore continually filtering the data that we use in our decision processes.

At MindAlpha we are experts in the science of decision making. We can help your team understand and identify the behavioural biases which affect decisions right across the business cycle; from strategic through to tactical and operational decisions. Then we can help you build robust, de-biased choice architectures for any of your business processes. Finally we will work with you to develop precise metrics to ensure your decision making stays on track.