Don't look back in hindsight

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Here's another in our series on unconscious bias and as usual we learn more about how our brains behave. Our brains like to make sense of the world retrospectively and create patterns out of events where no patterns exist. It's called the hindsight bias. And we do it because we like to think we have more control than we actually have. This control is satisfied when we can make the world more explainable than it actually is. The opposite is an acceptance of serendipity: random events happening that lead to new ideas or connections. Here's a recent example. At The Training Practice, we decided to explore international opportunities and had an idea how that might happen. That didn't work out, but instead we achieved international connections via a completely different route - all completely accidental. We had no idea a conversation with someone in Australia would lead to links in Holland and Germany. So, I can tick the international opportunities outcome box, but I'm not fooling myself. It was serendipity, not good planning. Think about it for a minute. If you apply the hindsight bias to a plan you've enacted, to claim a clear pattern of success, you'll need to have complete control over all elements in your environment. Can you honestly do that? I know I can't. So embrace unpredictability and avoid fooling yourself with the hindsight bias.


Bias blogs:

We've been hearing a lot about unconscious bias recently (rightfully so). And we want to make this real and practical for you. There have been over 180 cognitive biases identified. Read the following blogs to explore specific, individual biases, how they show up in our lives/workplaces, and what we can do about it.