In addition to McKinsey ideas on how to avoid bias in meetings; I also suggest using techniques like the Six Thinking Hats approach. I’ve blogged about it here. In this technique, you ask one of your audience to wear the hat of optimism, while another one wears the hat of pessimism, other with the hat of facts, hat of creativity, and hat of intuition, and you wear the hat of control, i.e. you control the meeting. I would like to understand my stakeholders or meetings participants beforehand, and ask the pessimistic person to be innovative in the meeting, and so forth. I assume this would support eliminating some sort of biases and previous perceptions.
McKinsey proposition articulates the following:
- Make sure the right people are involved
- Assign homework
- Create the right atmosphere
- Manage the debate
- Follow up
Snapshot from McKinsey article is shown here, while you can read it full from McKinsey site.
“The biases that undermine strategic decision making often operate in meetings. Here is a menu of ideas for running them in a way that will mitigate the impact of those biases. Not every suggestion will be applicable to all types of decisions or organizations, but paying attention to the principles underlying these ideas should pay dividends for any executive trying to run meetings that lead to sounder decisions. Also included are related comments from executives and experts we spoke with while creating our special package: “Seeing through biases in strategic decisions.”
Make sure the right people are involved
* Ensure diversity of backgrounds, roles, risk aversion profiles, and interests; cultivate critics within the top team …
* Invite contributions based on expertise, not rank. Don’t hesitate to invite expert contributors to come and present a point of view without attending the entire meeting.
* For the portion of the meeting where a decision is going to be made, keep attendance to a minimum, preferably with a team that has experience making decisions together. This loads the dice in favor of depersonalized debate by eliminating executives’ fear of exposing their subordinates to conflict and also creates, over time, an environment of trust among that small group of decision makers.