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How to Beat a Little-known Bias that Plagues Problem-Solvers

Original Content Publication Date: 11/06/2018


The "plunging-in bias" is a little-known bias that entails trying to tackle a problem before having a complete understanding of what the problem is or the best way to solve it. These three frameworks can help us to avoid falling into this bias:

1. Problem Faceting Framework
  • Accomplishment Gap - Where are we, where do we want to be? 
  • Hurdles - What is preventing us from getting there?
  • Enablers - What would help us get there?
  • Time - Do we have a realistic idea of how long this will take? How will we measure progress over time?
  • Core Question - Pull the other steps together and frame the problem as a question so that it is a hypothesis that can evolve over time. Avoid using the word "how".
2. Who-what Matrix - Most complex problems are not solved by one person or organization alone. Consider carefully who and what your actions and decisions will affect. This can help to identify those that should be included in the decision-making process. 

3. Question Tree - What questions should we be asking? Meant to prevent errors of omission, this framework says that we should question every step we take, always making sure we haven't missed anything important.

Key Points

  • The "plunging-in bias" occurs when we don't fully understand the problem that we are faced with
  • Slowing down and considering all aspects of a problem helps us to avoid this bias

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