We like to believe that we make conscious and fair decisions, we trust our intuition, we follow logical thinking and common sense. But what if our choices could be easily influenced, what if our intuition was nothing more than an effect of the laziness of our brain and what if logical thinking was harder than we expect? Our minds, which drive all of these processes, are complex and despite vast scientific research we still don't understand how they work.

Anchoring, halo effect, availability heuristic, attribute substitution, negativity bias, the law of small numbers, Dunning–Kruger effect are just a few of the phenomena that create traps for our minds. Are we defenceless when we face these traps? Fortunately not! It turns out that agility brings some tools and techniques to help us.

In this talk, we will explore various types of biases and heuristics that our minds use every day. We will perform experiments and learn from the research of the last 60 years. We will also look at some tools and techniques that agility brings and we will see how we can use to help ourselves, our teams and organisations.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

In this talk we will explore topics from behavioral science, in order to understand how our minds work. We will use short experiments (1-2 minutes), based on the actual research experiments used in the field of behavioral science, in order to experience biases and heuristics our minds use every day to make decisions.

This talk will likely run like this:

00:00-00:05 - Welcome, introduction to the talk

00:05-00:10 - Overview of how our minds work - System 1 and System 2, their function and their characteristics.

00:10--:00:30 - Walk through different kinds of biases and heuristics our brains use. This part will include experiments and overviews of:
- halo effect
- WYSIATI - What You See Is All These Is
- anchoring
- availability heuristic
- attribute substitution
- negativity bias
- law of small numbers
- Dunning–Kruger effect
- hot hand - a cognitive illusion

00:30 - 00:40 - Examples of tools from the agility toolbox and how they can help us avoid the discusses biases and heuristics. This part will include:
- liberating structures
- system thinking
- reflections/retrospectives
- investing in solving a problem over funding projects
- internal motivators over external motivators
- planning poker
- relative sizing

00:40-00:45 - Q&A and Closing

This talk would be delivered at the local Agile Auckland meetup in November 2019 as a test run before the conference. It has also been submitted to the Toronto Agile Conference 2019 (submission results would be announced in September 2019).

Learning Outcome

After the talk the audience will be able to:

- Recognise different types of cognitive biases, how they work and how they influence our behaviour

- Understand how agility helps alleviate the effect of cognitive bias

- Implement tools and techniques that can mitigate the risks of bias

- Design and facilitate workshops that would help the participants avoid making decisions based on the cognitive bias.

Target Audience

Agile Coaches, Leaders, Scrum Masters, Change Managers, Organisational Psychologists, Team Facilitators, Executives, Team members

Prerequisites for Attendees

No prerequisites for attendees.

schedule Submitted 9 months ago

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  • Oana Juncu
    By Oana Juncu  ~  8 months ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Jakub,

    Thank you for your submission. You seem to address the topic with a lot of references, how comfortable are you to go through all in the 45 min time?

    Some time slots allocated seem really short, like the 10 min for tools to help us free ourselves form our cognitive biases.


    Kind regards,


    • Jakub Jurkiewicz
      By Jakub Jurkiewicz  ~  8 months ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Oana,

      Thank you for your comment and a great question.

      True, I put a lot of reference materials to show the sources I am using to shape this speech. But actually I will be summarising the main concepts and pull them together into one coherent story about how our minds work. 

      The section about the tools will give an overview of these tools and how they might help with the bias but I do not plan to go into the details of every tool and approach. I will provide links and other materials where the attendees can look for more information. The main point of this speech is to create awareness of how our minds work and what traps we find on our way and what are some options to deal with them.

      Does it make sense? Or do you think that I should spend more time on the tools and approaches? I could easily reduce the number of biases I wanted to talk about and focus more on the approaches.

      Thank you so much for you help!


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