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Illusion of Knowledge – The Wild Ass Guess (WAG) in Business: You Don’t Know as Much as You Think You Know…

 

Joe DePaola,

 

Illusion of knowledge is the tendency to think that you have a better understanding than you actually do about any topic, issue, concept, problem

 

According to Daniel J. Boorstin; greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it’s the illusion of knowledgeThe term illusion refers to a specific form of sensory distortion, and although illusions distort reality they are generally shared by many people…

 

According to Barber and Odean; the illusion of knowledge is the tendency to make a stronger inference than is warranted by the data

 

According to Montier; over-optimism and over-confidence tend to stem from the illusion of control and the illusion of knowledge

 

Knowledge is imperative for achieving – success in business, power in politics, celebrity status in society… but, when do you know if you have enough of the right knowledge? According to George Bernard Shaw; beware of false knowledge; it’s more dangerous than ignorance

 

According to Dr. Daniel Simons; the tendency to think that we have a better understanding than we actually do, for example; one element of illusion is belief that basic understanding is actually deep understanding, when in fact it might be just superficial…

 

According to Stephen Hawking; greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it’s the illusion of knowledge…

 

In the article Knowledge Can Be Very Dangerous Illusion, Dr. Jeff Hester writes:

 

Some of what you think that you know is fine, but some isn’t: Here’s the rub – you don’t know which is which! In a rapidly changing high stakes world this simple truth holds the key to your fate… In the business world the data that supports your insights can be compelling, for example; research by Booz & Company found that 80% of the loss of shareholder value is the result of a single cause; mismanagement of strategic risk

 

More anecdotally, Jay Goltz writes in The New York Times; it’s simply a matter of denial or of not knowing what you don’t know… it all boils down to the same thing: The pitfalls that are likely to undermine success are failures in knowledge that you should have seen coming!

 

But first and foremost, a leader’s job is to make the strategic decisions that carry an organization successfully into the future through what are often treacherous waters. But decisions can be no better than the knowledge upon which they are basedBad knowledge leads to bad decisions, and bad decisions have bad consequences… When disaster strikes it’s usually because someone in charge didn’t recognize that the light at the end of the tunnel was, in fact, the headlight of the oncoming train…

 

For me, when Stephen Hawking talks about the ‘illusion of knowledge’, that’s far too polite a term for the brutal truth: Let me put it more bluntly… Some of what you think that you know is reliable, but some is nothing more than a ‘wild ass guess’ (WAG)… Your fate depends on your ability to tell which is which. As if the illusion of knowledge weren’t enough, and to make matters worse you hold onto your WAGs with everything you’ve got. You are quick to notice things that seem to confirm your ideas, but you are more than happy to overlook or rationalize away those inconvenient indications that you might be wrong. I’m not being judgmental, but ‘bias’ and ‘illusion of knowledge’ are wired into the brain; they are as natural as breathing. In business, four-out-of-five failed businesses are victim to their own WAGs; whether a small entrepreneur or Fortune 500 CEO… WAGs are the worst enemies you’ve got… According to Michael-Don Smith; greatest barrier to innovation and positive change is the illusion of knowledge…

 

In the article Predicting and Illusion of Knowledge, Daniel Simons writes: One aspect of illusion is that we often mistake surface understanding for deep understanding – we think we have deep understanding when all we really have is knowledge of surface properties. In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times it argued that the illusion of knowledge when coupled with technology presents information in – short, surface-level bursts, which can lead to a mistaken belief that we actually understand more than we do…

 

One practical consequence of the illusion of knowledge is the planning fallacy – we almost always assume that new projects will take less time and resources than they actually do. In part, because planning fallacy arises when we fail to take into account all the unpredicted complications that can arise, and we assume the simplest possible scenario. According to Darron Billeter, Ajay Kalra, George Loewenstein; the illusion of knowledge leads us to think that we’re more skilled or knowledgeable than we actually are and it leads us to underestimate how long it will take us to accomplish our goals. According to Billeter et al; in a study of predictions for how long people would take to learn a new skill; people were generally overconfident in their estimates, just as you would expect from overconfidence in your own knowledge. However, as soon as they began to learn the skill, they realized that they couldn’t succeed without more practice; they then over-corrected their expectations and assumed it would take them longer to learn the skill than it actually did…

 

In the article Do You Know What You Don’t Know? by Art Markman writes:

 

You probably don’t know as much as you think you do. When put to the test, most people find they can’t explain the workings of everyday things they think they understand... Don’t believe me? Find an object you use daily (e.g., a zipper, a toilet, a stereo speaker…) and try to describe the particulars of how it works. You’re most likely to discover unexpected gaps in your knowledge. In psychology we call this cognitive barrier the illusion of explanatory depth. It means you think you fully understand something that you actually don’t. We see this every day in using ‘buzz words’– though we often use these words– their meanings are usually unclear. They mask gaps in our knowledge serving as placeholders that gloss over concepts that you don’t fully understand… For example, several years ago, I attended a corporate meeting where the vice president spoke about streamlining business practices… During the talk, many executives in the room nodded in agreement. Afterward, though, many of them discussed-questioned what streamlining actually meant. None of the people who had nodded in agreement could exactly define the mechanics of – how to streamline a business practice…

 

In the article Illusion of Knowledge, Nick Miltonat writes:

 

The illusion of knowledge is behind the way we over-estimate how much we know… We all experience this sort of illusory knowledge, even for the simplest projects… We underestimate how long they will take or how much they will cost, because what seems simple and straightforward in our mind, but typically turns out to be more complex when our plans encounter reality

 

Over and over, the illusion of knowledge convinces us that we have a deep understanding of what a project will entail, when all we really have is a rough and optimistic guess based on shallow familiarity… People think they know what to do, so they never ask for help and they never look for knowledge elsewhere… They think (mistakenly) that they have all the knowledge they need… So how do you deal with this problem? To avoid this illusion of knowledge, seek out other views, and other opinions for a similar circumstance that others have completed (the more similar to yours the better, of course). When you consider other views that differ from your own, it might change how you see your circumstance… Keep in mind, as part of your overall ‘knowledge management’, three illusions; illusion of memory, illusion of confidence, illusion of knowledge

 

In the article Why We Make Things Up, Jeff Hester writes: When I speak to business audiences I always start by saying: If you want your business to thrive; ‘illusion of knowledge’ is enemy number one! That accusation begs the question, if the illusion of knowledge is so pernicious, then why do we have it? It’s simple. Without the illusion of knowledge we couldn’t get through the day… I remember my first trip to Asia; even though I had travel extensively this was a new world to me; it was uncomfortable-disorienting… We’ve all found ourselves in situations that we weren’t certain of the circumstances, where we didn’t know the rules. We all know the stress, anxiety and even fear and self-doubt those times can bring… Our experience of the world is inseparable from our conception of the world. I’ll give you an example; look at the following phrase: 你今天好嗎.  I don’t read Chinese so I see nothing but meaningless symbols, but when someone translates its meaning, it’s a pleasant greeting: How are you today? (Or at least that’s what ‘Google Translate’ tells me they see! That brings us back to the illusion of knowledge. We need ‘to know’ about things; because without knowledge and understanding we are worse than lost. We need to understand the world so badly that we will grasp at anything! In process we can fool ourselves, usually without even realizing it. Even when it’s not perfect, our understanding of the world is what lets us make business decisions and move through the day… However, if you want to move beyond the illusion of knowledge, start by identifying the knowledge and ideas that are most critical to the way you do business. Then do your level best to show that they are wrong (yes wrong)… That is what I mean when I say, Never bet the farm on an idea that you haven’t tried to kill first If your ideas can withstand scrutiny then you can sleep well at night. But if an idea can’t stand the heat, then its better that you find out sooner rather than later…. At least that’s if you want to stay in business…

 

No one is immune to the illusion of knowledge: Now that’s a scary thought considering that most of us rely on – information, input, ideas… from hundreds of people in our daily lives. For example; yes, your doctor suffers from the illusion of knowledge. Yes, your business management suffers from it. Yes, your stockbroker suffers from the illusion of knowledge too… How do you reduce your exposure from the effects of this illusion? The best way is to do research, listen to multiple sources, get a second opinion or even third or fourth when it comes to business, finances, health… According to Sabine Hossenfelder; we are faced with an incredible amount of information and it’s often necessary to use shortcuts to arrive at a conclusion, fast… these are illusions of knowledge that makes the world much easier when they are classifiable as simply; good and bad, right and wrong, friends and enemies… According to John Hunter; you must be willing to question your beliefs but at the same time you need to make many decisions every day based on your beliefs, and making a huge number of assumptions everyday… But there are risks of assuming you know much more than you do. And that illusion of knowledge is something that makes people much less effective than they could be if they better understood what they knew, and the weight they should give to various beliefs… According to Crystal C. Hall, Lynn Ariss, Alexander Todorov; intuition suggests that having more information can increase prediction accuracy about uncertain outcomes. In experiments, we have shown that more knowledge can actually decrease accuracy and simultaneously increase prediction confidence… Bottom-line: Don’t be over-confident, don’t think that you know it all because you don’t, maintain vigilance in learning… And, just like you shouldn’t assume you know it all, definitely don’t assume that others do either

 

http://bizshifts-trends.com/2013/12/30/illusion-knowledge-wild-ass-guess-wag-dont-know-much-think-know/



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The Stupidity Index– Power of Stupid, Idiocy, Lunacy, Folly… Stupidity-Based Theory of Organization and Management

 

Joe DePaola, 12/25/13

 

Stupidity is a quality or state of being stupid, or an act or idea that exhibits properties of being stupid. According to Pitkin; the problems with stupidity is that nobody has a really good definition of what it is. In fact, geniuses are often considered stupid by a stupid majority (though nobody has a good definition of genius, either). But stupidity definitely is all around us and there is much more of it than our wildest nightmares might suggest. In fact, it runs the world – which is very clearly proven by the way the world is run. According to Jaspreet Kaur; stupid management mistakes never cease to amaze me, and every day I hear stories from people who leave me wondering why smart managers can be so dumb, for example:

 

Got a problem? Set-up a committee?

Want someone to do something? Throw them in to the deep end with little training, then come down hard on them when they screw-up… Ask your workforce for feedback, and then ignore everything that’s been suggested…

Want to treat your staff like demented idiots who can’t think for themselves? Just micro-manage everything and talk down to them when they come up with ideas…

 

According to Susan Heathfield; organizations do dumb things to mess-up relationships with the people they employ, for example;

 

failing to tell people what they’re supposed to do and then wondering why they fail,

adding layers of paperwork and bureaucracy to stop things getting done, and treating people as if they are untrustworthy, or

telling employees to change the way they are doing things without providing good explanation why, and then sending them off to ‘change management’ training or Siberia, when they resist…

 

According to Carlo Maria Cipolla; there are five fundamental ‘laws of stupidity’, here are three:

 

The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person…

A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or

even worse causing damage to themselves in the process…

 

Non-stupid people always underestimate harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at anytime, anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error

 

Stupidity Index: According to Nikhil; we are all born with a ‘Stupidity Index’ of 3. The scale is from 0 to 5, where 0 is the least stupid and 5 is the most stupid: I am at 4. What about you? Assess yourself. You’ll be surprised to know where you stand… Anyway, when Charles Darwin wrote ‘Origin Of Species’, he overlooked one major fact – The Stupidity Index… The scale is explained as follows:

 

(請至原網頁參考相關圖片)

 

Wall Street Stupidity Index: The day Twitter went public not only was it profitable in the fiscal sense, but also illuminated a metric that has heretofore been under-appreciated by those attempting to comprehend and thereby profit from the laws that guide the market. We will call this potent new tool -- The Wall Street Stupidity Index…

 

(請至原網頁參考圖片)

 

In the article Never Underestimate The Power Of Stupid People In Large Groups, George Carlin writes:

 

I’ve said it before -- stupid people are dangerous. Sure they are amusing some of the time and annoying all of the time, but they are also dangerous a lot of the time too. Whether it be the stupid idiot who gets drunk and thinks it makes him a better driver, or someone in a company who has been promoted well beyond his or her level of ability just because the number of years of service he or she has accrued, or one of those despicable ‘jobs-worth’ morons you inevitably find in bureaucratic government non-jobs, their stupidity poses a danger to the rest of us… A lot of the time the idiots get away with it, without anyone noticing much. The smart people get on with their lives and quietly accept the interference of the stupid. But recently idiots have been steadily encroaching on our private lives, into things that are clearly none of their business and things that pose no danger to society at large or to any individual within it: The idiots want power, but they don’t know what to do with it, when they get it. But they want it, and more and more of it. My own theory is that at heart, although they try to appear superior, the idiots know they are idiots and actually feel inferior to normal people…

 

We’ve been through the NSA fiasco when they were outed by a former employee. We know they look at our emails, listen to our telephone conversations, probably even snoop in our mail or scrutinize our blogs (gosh!)… And we are currently in midst of one of the most idiotic standoffs in history: Washington with the President, Senate and House of Representatives seeing who can balance on one leg the longest while the country becomes the laughing-stock of the rest of the world. Yes folks, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups to destroy society and drag the rest of us down along with them…

 

In the article A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations, Mats Alvesson and André Spicer write:

 

Management and organization studies are a bound with positive-sounding reports of the importance of well-educated and bright-workers in knowledge-based firms that are at the forefront of the knowledge economy: There is broad consensus that modern economies is becoming increasingly ‘knowledge-intensive’… Many assume that being able to put knowledge to work intelligently is the essence of what (successful) organizations do… However, we think that this consensus needs to be challenged; and perhaps modern economies and organizations should become more ‘stupidity-intensive’… To develop this challenge, we offer something different by drawing attention to significance of ‘functional stupidity’ in organizations where functional stupidity can help to marginalize sources of friction and uncertainty… However, in our view, what is crucial is that functional stupidity is not just an aberration in organizational life, but in many cases it’s central and supported by organizational norms and facilitates smooth interactions in organizations. Being clever and knowledgeable is fine and necessary, but so is refraining from being reflexive and avoiding asking for justifications for decisions and structures, and minimizing substantive reasoning about values and goals. In this sense, functional stupidity can be helpful in producing results for organizations as well as for individuals. It’s productive because it cuts short costly and anxiety inducing questions and creates a sense of certainty… But, like many things in organizational life it’s a mixed blessing: It’s ‘functional’ because it has some advantages and makes people concentrate enthusiastically on the task in hand. It’s ‘stupid’ because risks and problems may arise when people do not pose critical questions about what they and the organization are doing… We see functional stupidity as being created not through intellectual deficits but through political expediency and the exercise of power. In other words, organizational members become functionally stupid through a series of cultural and institutional beliefs… reinforced by managerial (and self-managerial) interventions, such as; encouraging narrow action orientation, celebration of leadership, attachment to structure, strong belief in institutions… which discourage substantive reasoning and justification… This happens through a combination of indirect and more systemic stupidity management…

 

You might like:

 

·        Bad Business Leaders– Incompetent, Clown, Arrogant, Dunce, Shady..: Most Companies are Clueless at Picking Leaders…

·        Management Styles: U.S., Europe, Japan, China, India, Brazil, Russia

·        Power of Thinking Differently– Invent, Imagine, Create, Disrupt.. Change the World: Companies Must Think Different or Fail…

·        Crazy Business Ideas– Great Innovations Live On The Edge of Ridiculousness: To Win Big– It Helps To Be a Little Nutty…

 

http://bizshifts-trends.com/2013/12/25/stupidity-index-power-stupid-idioacy-contrarian-stupidity-based-theory-organization-management/



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