As Decision Rules Of Thumb
A heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently. These rule-of-thumb strategies shorten decision-making time and allow people to function without constantly stopping to think about their next course of action. Heuristics are helpful in many situations, but they can also lead to cognitive biases. (Verywell Mind).
Much has been written lately about heuristics and cognitive biases. I also have contributed several recent blogs. This blog is a review of the advantages and disadvantages of these decision making short-cuts. Heuristics could also be called Rules of Thumb. A rule of thumb is an easy to remember guide that falls somewhere between a mathematical formula and a shot in the dark. Tom Parker
Cognitive biases seem to always be getting the way of our thinking and deciding. Recognizing that heuristics and rules of thumb decision strategies can be both helpful and harmful is beneficial in today’s world of information overload. Rules of thumb were first used to make up for lack of facts. Today we need rules of thumb because of too many facts, which can be problematic in decision making. Sometimes you don’t have the time or the ability to discover the best way to do something. Or there may not be a best way. This is when you need a homemade recipe or an easy to remember guide.
In 1991, I introduced four paradoxical decision principles, that could be considered rules of thumb or heuristics, in my book Creative Decision Making; With Positive Uncertainty.*
- Be focused and flexible about what you want. This principle will help you create your goals and discover new ones.
- Be aware and wary of what you know. This principle will help you to appreciate knowing and appreciate not knowing.
- Be realistic and optimistic about what you believe. This principle will help you realize that your beliefs influence your reality and your behavior.
- Be practical and magical about what you do.This principle will help you use both you head and your heart in deciding.
Totally rational, by-the -book, decision making is considered almost impossible today. So a little help from non-rational, intuitive decision strategies would seem useful. My many blogs since 2012 are full of heuristics and rules of thumb for decision makers. For example, Always be rational, unless there is a good reason not to be.
Since we apparently can’t usually make rational decisions, we need some non-rational strategies for deciding. Humans need all the help we can get.
The best-laid plans of mice and men are usually about equal. Murphy’s Laws
- Crisp Publications. Creative Decision Making, Using Positive Uncertainty, 1991; Revised edition 2003, with Carol Gelatt as coauthor.