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 1 year ago

Public Feedback

    • Dave Snowden

      Dave Snowden - Is Mindset yet another agile buzzword?

      45 Mins

      While it is true to say that people’s attitudes and beliefs are key to implementing an agile project, or Agile in itself, much of the use of the term ‘mindset’ implies a mental model that can be defined and engineered. In this presentation, we will look at how we can measure attitudes within an organization and use multiple small actions to trigger the rapid evolution of organizational culture, so that it can sustain agile developments. Mindset and the alignment-based ideas of some on the Agile movement too often imply creating homogeneous beliefs and values that will lead to full alignment. In practice, this damages resilience and can be dangerous. This presentation will introduce the idea of coherence instead of alignment - the celebration of cognitive and behavioral differences that can align if needed to support the delivery of sustainable solutions.