The Development Source

How Much Do You Really Notice in Proposal Development?

We all would like to believe that we are extremely observant and highly rational, especially when it comes to proposal development. Alas, there is little evidence for this in proposal development…or any other of our endeavors.

Over the last few decades, scholars in applied behaviour psychology and economics such as Cass Sunstein, Daniel Kahnemann, and Dan Ariely have demonstrated that our powers of observation and judgement are predictably limited and prone to predictable errors and biases. Max H. Bazerman starts with this premise in his new book, The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See (2014).

Bazerman, the author of several books on behavioural psychology, teaches at the Harvard University Business School and the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. After examining such events as the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and J.P. Morgan’s infamous “London Whale” scandal, he concludes that we can be taught to make better decisions by becoming more observant and developing different ways of looking at our work and the way we make decisions.

For example, Bazerman recommends that we consider doing the following to help overcome our cognitive blind spots:
• Invent a third choice.
• Examine what did not happen rather than what occurred. Why didn’t the dog bark?
• Find unconventional ways to ask new questions and get new answers.
• Acknowledge self-interest and put yourself in other people’s shoes.
• Learn to detect misdirection – if things look too good to be true, they probably are.

Bazerman’s book is not a radically new way at looking at the way we think and work, but he does provide us with a step-by-step guide to helping us pay closer attention and realizing that what we see is not all there is.

How can we notice what our colleagues miss and make better decisions? Read The Power of Noticing and perhaps you will learn a little more about yourself and how to be a better leader.

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