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How to address decision making challenges – optimism


Optimism in one characteristic that it might see harsh to criticize. But take a look at this article on Accounting for the future. It makes a couple of interesting points. Firstly that the preparation of projections can be misleading and that an “inside view” – caused by developing a detailed plan, say – makes you more optimistic because you are less focused on outside events. People, it seems, are better at being optimistic and more data, more time to do analysis can make this worse, not better.

One could imagine that this would create problems with staff and customers being overly optimistic about when they might complete something (handling a refund, say), when they might be able to afford something (like paying off a debt), how likely they are to remember something (like a prescription). Rather than giving them information and hoping they make a good (and not too optimistic) decision, we could automate the decision and do so in a way that uses the data pragmatically. These decisions would then not be optimistic but realistic.

Of course one can be guilty of optimism hen designing decision management systems but I think this would be easier to control as it happens less often and in a more controlled environment.