Monday, June 5, 2017

Certitude is the bane of group decision-making

From Why Japan Lost the Battle of Midway by James Holmes. Holmes uses the Battle of Midway as a case example of some of the challenges to effective decision-making, in this case, the challenge of a great man reputation accidentally forcing an epistemic closure. Everyone defers to the wisdom of the great man and that closes off recognition and acknowledgement of new information and alternative perspectives. The concluding paragraph is a good summation:
Certitude is the bane of group decision-making. Physicist Richard Feynman beseeches researchers to “leave the door to the unknown ajar,” even when a scientific law appears settled. That’s doubly true for military and naval bureaucracies. After all, martial science is never settled. We should all be doubters—and seek out skeptics of Feynman’s ilk to poke holes in our schemes. Whether his input is right, wrong, or somewhere in between, the devil’s advocate invigorates strategic and operational discourses—subjecting proposals to penetrating scrutiny and bolstering the final product.

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