The engineering contractor, Morton Thiokol, advised against the launch, predicting a much higher than usual chance of failure because the cold temperatures could compromise the O-rings sealing the rocket boosters’ joints. Yet tragically they changed their stance.
Reconstructing the series of events leading to the doomed launch of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, the congressional hearings revealed the interwoven conditions that compromised the forecast: time pressure, inappropriate directive leadership, failure to explore fully alternative views, silencing of dissenters and a sense of infallibility (after all, 24 previous flights had gone well).
Would things have been different if they had taken on board the latest research, published in the May-2016 HBR, which found that there are two approaches that dramatically increase your chances of forecasting results?
1. Training on biases
2. Team Effectiveness
According to Schoemaker and Tetlock’s research, you can “upgrade your company’s judgment” from 36% to a staggering 66% through:
- Training on biases
Much has been written on the impact of our cognitive biases. They play out in everyday situations where we think we are making logical, considered decisions based on what we forecast ahead.
So what hope or chance do we stand in wising up?!?
Well, the good news is that like most flaws in our behaviours, recognition awareness ? is probably the most significant step. Once we are aware of it then we can do start to do something about it and change the way we behave.
One of the most accessible introductions to bias comes from Professor Robert Cialdini, who became so intrigued by the way he had become such a ‘sucker’ for what he called ‘nudges’ that he went to work for sales organisations that were so adept at using them in order to better research the techniques. In red10, we familiarise people with these approaches in an Influencing Masterclass, using role-plays as a speedy and engaging way of learning.
Schoemaker and Tetlock’s research found that you get a 5% ‘upgrade in judgment’ from being trained on biases.
But there’s something else you can do to get an even bigger upgrade…
- Team Effectiveness
As opposed to the Directive Leadership Style found in the events leading to the Challenger Shuttle launch that “silenced dissenters” and failed to explore “alternative views”, Schoemaker & Tetlock’s research found a different approach that led to an ‘upgrade in judgment’ to 66%.
In this approach, leaders create teams that can talk freely, openly, listen and seek to understand.
So how can you create this type of climate?
In red10, we encourage leaders to put in place a set of research-based conditions with their teams known as the 9 Dimensions™ and supported by a set of team tools that speed up conversations. Every dimension provides the basis for a tangible agreement that can be made together in a way that increases your chances of success.
So…how about using the 9 Dimensions™ with your team to launch for success after the summer break?