Leadership Story | Leaders Make Smart Bets

Have you ever made a decision with incomplete or imperfect information? How did it feel?

Many of us struggle with daily distractions, and the pressure of making decisions with imperfect or incomplete information. In Annie Duke’s amazing new book, Thinking in Bets, Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All The Facts, she informs us that is the normal state in poker, where over the course of a single hand of poker, one could be involved in up to twenty decisions. And each hand ends with a concrete result: Win money or lose money. 

Do you ever examine your decision-making process after a favorable outcome, or a business win? Many of us examine our decisions when the outcome isn’t favorable, or after a business proposal loss. Duke shares a poker player term for our tendency to equate the quality of a decision with the quality of its outcome: “resulting.” It’s one of the worst habits for a poker player, and it’s one of the worst habits for a responsible leader. Life is a lot like poker.

When we don't review or assess our decisions, our minds are likely to create blind spots, such as hindsight bias, or the tendency, after an outcome is known, to see the outcome as having been inevitable.

It’s always a good idea to examine our decision-making process, especially when there’s been a good outcome. That’s why the military uses After Action Reviews. The best leaders do this. The best leaders accept uncertainty. Leaders make smart bets.