Merton argued that, in academics, an individual researcher’s data must eventually be shared with the scientific community at large for knowledge to advance. “Secrecy is the antithesis of this norm; full and open communication its enactment.”
Any attempt at accuracy is bound to fall short if the truthseeking group has only limited access to potentially pertinent information. Without all the facts, accuracy suffers.
if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid—not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results . . .”
Within our own decision pod, we should strive to abide by the rule that “more is more.” Get all the information out there. Indulge the broadest definition of what could conceivably be relevant.
As a rule of thumb, if we have an urge to leave out a detail because it makes us uncomfortable or requires even more clarification to explain away, those are exactly the details we must share.
Sharing data and information, like the other elements of a truthseeking charter, is done by agreement.
Without an agreement, we can’t and shouldn’t compel others to share information they don’t want to share. We all have a right of privacy.
If the group is discussing a decision and it doesn’t have all the details, it might be because the person providing them doesn’t realize the relevance of some of the data. Or it could mean the person telling the story has a bias toward encouraging a certain narrative that they likely aren’t even aware of.
We have all experienced situations where we get two accounts of the same event, but the versions are dramatically different because they are informed by different facts and perspectives. This is known as the Rashomon Effect.
The Rashomon Effect reminds us that we can’t assume one version of a story is accurate or complete. We can’t count on someone else to provide the other side of the story, or any individual’s version to provide a full and objective accounting of all the relevant information.
When presenting a decision for discussion, we should be mindful of details we might be omitting and be extra-safe by adding anything that could possibly be relevant. On the evaluation side, we must query each other to extract those details when necessary.
Be a data sharer. That’s what experts do. In fact, that’s one of the reasons experts become experts. They understand that sharing data is the best way to move toward accuracy because it extracts insight from your listeners of the highest fidelity.
What the experts recognize is that the more detail you provide, the better the assessment of decision quality you get.
If part of corporate success consists of providing the most accurate, objective, and detailed evaluation of what’s going on, employees will compete to win on those terms.
If those analyzing data knew, or could even just intuit, the hypothesis being tested, the analysis would be more likely to support the hypothesis being tested. The measurements might be objective, but slicing and dicing the data is vulnerable to bias, even unconsciously.
Outcome blindness enforces disinterestedness.
If the group is going to help us make and evaluate decisions in an unbiased way, we don’t want to infect them in the way the data analysts were infected if they could surmise the hypothesis being tested.
If the outcome is known, it will bias the assessment of the decision quality to align with the outcome quality.
If the group is blind to the outcome, it produces higher fidelity evaluation of decision quality. The best way to do this is to deconstruct decisions before an outcome is known.
After the outcome, make it a habit when seeking advice to give the details without revealing the outcome.
When trying to vet some piece of information, some fact or opinion, we would do well to shield our listeners from what our opinion is as we seek the group’s opinion.
Simply put, the group is less likely to succumb to ideological conflicts of interest when they don’t know what the interest is.
Another way a group can de-bias members is to reward them for skill in debating opposing points of view and finding merit in opposing positions.
If two people disagree, a referee can get them to each argue the other’s position with the goal of being the best debater. This acts to shift the interest to open-mindedness to the opposing opinion rather than confirmation of their original position.