In my consulting and executive education work with senior managers I have noticed how capable and experienced managers are unwitting victims of decision flaws. I had, as most of us in the managerial profession have, read about spectacular failures like Enron in US and Satyam in India. Other even more serious decision flaws dot human history. Errors of military strategy – Napoleon’s and Hitler’s failed thrusts across Russia – changed the course of modern human history. The failure of Indian political leadership to anticipate the Chinese invasion of early 1960’s is another example.
My curiosity to discover why perfectly sane and intelligent men and women make errors of judgement led me to study the subject of strategic thinking and how it affects decisions. I now teach the subject in Indian Institutes of Management Ahmedabad and Bangalore, the two top post-graduate B-schools in India. The course is roughly divided in two parts: rational decision making and the non-rational processes of the mind. The first part is anchored in game theory; the latter in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics.
It is not enough for people who are interested in the subject to learn in a class or workshop, though that certainly helps a lot. To improve the quality of decisions one must become mindful of one’s thoughts and practise applying the principles in everyday life and work.