Rationalization is pretty much crap…

March 26, 2018

Neuroscience tells us so. So does psychology. Yes, indeed. Rationalization is pretty much crap.

Charles Green inspired me today, as I write this blog.

I keep recommending Green’s newsletter, TrustedAdvice. Check out the issue “Smarts, Selfies, Shuttles – and Trust.” Read about the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Read about all the mistakes in decision-making.

YES! MISTAKES! You and I and our organizations make those same kinds of mistakes. Unfortunately, we keep talking about how wise we are and how smart we are and how rational we are. As Green notes, “our over-estimation of our rational behavior” and our “confirmation bias” can cause disasters big and small.

Green’s newsletter inspired me to  go to the original sources — and share with you. The original sources like Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. These two – along with others – established the cognitive bias for our human errors. Biases. Heuristics.

Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology, challenging the rational model of judgment and decision-making. (And he said it was a joint prize with his partner of so many years, Tversky, who had died previously.)

I have Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow on my business book shelf. I need to get off my butt and read it!!!!!

Or maybe I should read Michael Lewis’ book The Undoing Project, all about Kahneman and Tversky and their years of research and discovery. Lewis is the author of Moneyball, The Blind Side, and more.

I’m wandering. I get to do that in my own blog!!!!

Back to my beginning. Rationalization is pretty much crap. We aren’t rational. But we justify our decision-making by saying we’re rational. 

Imagine talking about neuroscience and psychology — and NON-rationalization — at a board meeting. Just enough to get everyone on board that we have to be very very very very careful. Imagine talking about NON-rationalization with staff … and carefully figuring out how we avoid the human error that lives in us all.

Maybe by confronting the crap, we’ll reduce the mess. Just maybe.

 

 

 

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

Simone Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, is an internationally recognized expert in fund development, board and organizational development, strategic planning, and management.

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