哈佛商學院的約翰．畢謝爾（John Beshears）和法蘭西絲卡．吉諾（Francesca Gino），提供一個五步驟的流程，可減輕認知偏誤和動機低落對決策的影響。
Alison Beard: Hi. I'm Alison Beard an editor at HBR, and I'm here today with John Beshears and Francesca Gino, both professors at Harvard Business School, and authors of the article, Leaders as Decision Architects. Thank you both for coming in.
Francesca Gino: Thank you for having us.
John Beshears: Pleasure to be here.
Alison Beard: So you both spend a lot of time studying decision making, and how most of us – employees, managers, customers -- make the wrong ones. But you've developed an approach to structuring work that's supposed to help us solve that problem. So can you walk me through it?
Francesca Gino: Sure. The first step is to understand why all of us often make poor decisions. We rely too much on what that Daniel Kahneman calls System 1 thinking. System 1 thinking is emotional, intuitive, automatic. And relying too much on it leads you to all sorts of cognitive biases, like overconfidence, groupthink, loss aversion, and a preference for the status quo. But it's also possible for people to engage what Daniel Kahneman calls System 2 thinking more often. And System 2 is more deliberate, more logical, and slower. And it tells us when our intuitions are wrong, and when our emotions are clouding our judgments.
The second step is to define the problem. We recommand that leaders who are interested in using our approach think about three factors -- whether the problem is caused by something that has to do with human behavior, whether the problem can be narrowly defined, and whether people are acting against their best interest. And then, after defining the problem, the third step is to understand the underlying causes of it.
You should ask two questions -- whether the problem is mainly due to a lack of motivation, or insufficient motivation. So are people failing to act? Or whether the problem is due to the fact that people are taking actions, but they're taking the wrong one. For example, John worked with a retailer who was trying to cut some health care costs by getting these employees to sign up for mail prescriptions rather than picking up their prescription at the pharmacy.
John Beshears: Yes. That was a narrow problem where people were not acting in their best interests. What the employer realized was that when employees switch from in person pharmacy pick of maintenance prescriptions to home delivery of maintenance prescriptions -- and these are things like drugs for high cholesterol, high blood pressure -- actually both the company sponsoring the prescription drug plan and the employees would save money.
But many employees were not getting around to signing up for home delivery. And the reason was inertia -- a lack of motivation. So that's a case where people should have been doing something that was in their best interest, and helping the company along the way, but they simply weren't because of the problems that Daniel Kahneman has laid out for us.
Alison Beard: So what did the company do to change their behavior?
John Beshears: Right. That's step four of our process -- design the solution. In this case, what the company decided to do was get people to engage System 2. And the way it did that was by encouraging employees to make an active choice. So employees could decide to switch to home delivery of their maintenance prescriptions, or they could stick with in person pharmacy pick up. But either way, in order to take advantage of the benefits of the prescription drug plan, what employees had to do was actively indicate which of those two options they preferred.
They could stay with in person pharmacy pick up, but in order to do so, they needed to indicate that that was their choice by mail, or by making a phone call, or by going online. And the process wasn't designed to be onerous at all. It was a very simple, trivial process. But what it did was it caused employees to pause for a moment to reflect on whether they might want to switch to home delivery. And in fact, upon reflection, a lot of them decided that they did want to switch to home delivery. This very simple change led to a sixfold increase in the number of employees receiving maintenance prescriptions by mail.
Alison Beard: Wow.
John Beshears: Yeah. So I should emphasize that different situations call for different solutions. And in the example I was just describing, the employer decided to encourage employees to engage System 2. But another recommendation that we put forward is encouraging people to have System 1 triggered. And actually, Francesca has an example of that in some of her work with a company in India, where the solution was based on triggering System 1 by arousing emotions.
Francesca Gino: What we were trying to do in that case was working with the company, trying to address the problem of reducing high levels of turnover that we are experiencing in their call centers. So this is Wipro, and the experiment that we conducted was in their business process outsourcing call centers. And what we did was very simple. We conducted an experiment with two conditions during the onboarding process.
In one condition, new employees came in on their first day of orientation, and they basically had the time to think about their strengths, and how they could apply them to their jobs. And in another condition -- which was our control, if you will -- they didn't do that. They were not given the time for self reflection. And what we found is that the type of reflection really made the bond with the organization –the emotional bond--much stronger. And as a result of it, turnover ended up being much lower.
And we also were able to increase the performance of the employees, as well as job engagement. And we were able to replicate the findings in many other organizations by again working on this idea of engaging System 1 by creating a better bond -- better emotional bond -- with the company.
Alison Beard: So you mentioned control groups. And I know that testing is step five in your approach. So can you talk a little bit about why that's important?
John Beshears: Sure. We do, indeed, lay out a number of different possible solutions to various organizational problems. Francesca gave us a great example of triggering System 1, in this case by arousing emotions. But you could also consider harnessing biases or simplifying processes. And then there's the possibility of engaging System 2. One way you do that is the example I put forward, which was by encouraging reflection. But you could also prompt people to form plans. You could also try to inspire broader thinking on the part of people within your organization.
And then there's even a third possibility, which is bypassing both systems altogether. And you can do that either by setting wise defaults, or by introducing automatic adjustments into a process. But what we recommend is choosing one of those solutions, and then rigorously testing it against a control group to see which works better. And that is step five -- testing the solution to see what's most effective.
Alison Beard: So in all of the work that you've done across organizations, have you found that there are particular strategies that really work the best?
John Beshears: It turns out that bypassing both systems is often highly effective. And the reason is, when you follow that strategy, you are requiring no particular action on the part of the individuals involved. So that's a very powerful way to influence outcomes. But in many situations it's not feasible to bypass both systems, and then the organization is choosing between triggering System 1, and engaging System 2.
And one factor that is important to consider in that choice is the extent to which you want the individuals involved to be exerting a lot of cognitive energy. So in some cases, maybe you don't want them to be exerting any cognitive energy at all, because that detracts from their ability to pay attention to other important aspects of the situation. And actually, Francesca, your work with fundraisers was a case where actually you didn't want them to have to exert any cognitive energy, right?
Francesca Gino: Yeah. So that was a project in collaboration with Adam Grant of Wharton, where we were trying to understand how to motivate fund raisers at a US public university. And this is a job where you get rejected a lot, and keeping the motivation high is difficult. So what we decided to do is to trigger System 1 -- try to make their emotions a little bit stronger. And we did that by asking a director to walk around and visit the different centers, and basically express gratitude for the work that the employees were doing.
And so we were able to make emotions higher by triggering System 1. Now in that situation, you could imagine choosing a different strategy. For example, you could choose to trigger System 2. And so you would ask the employees to spend more time thinking about their calls before actually making the calls. Or you could imagine increasing accountability for the outcomes of those calls. But we decided not to have people spend a lot of energy in cognitive resources by triggering System 2, because that might be a case where you detract from their effort and their motivation.
And by triggering System 1 instead – raising the emotions –we were able to increase their effort and their motivation, and they ended up performing much better in the weeks after by making many more voluntary calls.
Alison Beard:So a simple thank you is pretty powerful.
Francesca Gino: Yes, it is.
Alison Beard:Terrific. Well, this is really interesting research. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
Francesca Gino:Thank you for having us.