The planning fallacy: why we underestimate how long a task will take

“I’ll be here in ten minutes,” you tell your friend on the phone while hurrying to put your shoes on. “We are aiming to launch at the end of year,” confidently tells the project manager to their boss. We have all been guilty of being overoptimistic when predicting how long a task will take. That’s …

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Systematic inventive thinking: the power of thinking inside the box

When talking about creativity, many people will tell you: “Think outside the box!” The catchphrase is so common in management consulting and business environments, it has become a bit of a cliché. What if innovation could be fostered by thinking inside the box instead? That’s what Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) aims to achieve. The history …

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How to evaluate the validity and reliability of your mental models

Mental models are shortcuts for reasoning. They are a set of ideas and beliefs that we consciously or unconsciously form based on our experiences to shape our representation of how the world works. While mental models are extremely useful to make decisions in times of uncertainty, they are still shortcuts—which can be harmful if we …

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Temporal discounting: the battle between present and future self

As humans, we tend to favour our present self at the expense of our future self. Our present self will eat an extra piece of cake, skip a training session, drink too much, stay up late, or procrastinate; our future self is left dealing with the consequences. This phenomenon is called temporal discounting. The further …

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The Dunning–Kruger effect: you don’t know what you don’t know

Why do ignorant folks tend to overestimate the extent of their knowledge? How do incompetent people often seem to be unaware of how deficient their expertise is? Turns out, we are not very good at evaluating ourselves accurately. And one of the most obvious manifestations of this psychological deficiency is the Dunning–Kruger effect, the cognitive …

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Managing risk with the NASA Risk Matrix

“It’s not rocket science!” people often say. Well, sometimes, projects can be so complex, making the right decision does feel akin to rocket science. Who better to turn to than one of the biggest space agencies in the world to learn how to manage risk? There are few organisations working on projects as complex as …

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Connectedness and complex systems with Dr John L. Collins

Welcome to the fourth instalment in our interview series, where I ask highly creative and innovative people how they manage to achieve more without sacrificing their mental health. Our guest is Dr John L. Collins, a Chartered Mathematician and Chartered Physicist who holds a PhD in Nuclear Physics and Semiconductor theory from Aston University. John …

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Confirmation bias: believing what you see, seeing what you believe

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” — Robertson Davies. A person who thinks women are bad drivers is more likely to notice driving mistakes made by women. A detective who is convinced a suspect is guilty is more likely to pay attention to evidence corroborating their intuition. And, while someone …

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Illusory correlations: how to identify your hidden assumptions

When I was a kid, I used to think I was doing much better at tests when using a particular pencil my sister had gifted me. So I would make sure to use this pen for every test. I have a friend who thinks that city people are generally rude. So when he meets a …

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The Occam’s razor fallacy: the simplest solution is not always the correct one

When faced with two equally credible theories, wisdom seems to indicate you should go for the simplest one. Simpler solutions are easier to verify; they’re easier to execute. But, while mental models are a great way to make sense of the world, not all of them should be followed blindly. In fact, some should be …

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