Three major mistakes people make when conducting analysis are succumbing to confirmation bias, analysis paralysis, and generating weak results. If you’re mindful of these risks and approach your analysis rigorously and objectively, you can make a recommendation that will be easily approved.
A hypothesis-driven approach to problem solving and making recommendations can be tremendously efficient. You create a hypothesis (something taken to be true for the sake of argument), conduct analysis designed to prove or disprove the hypothesis, then make your recommendation based on the results of your analysis. Typically your hypothesis is based upon prior experiences you’ve had as well as your knowledge of the subject matter you’re evaluating. I’ve personally used this approach for years. I refer to it as the Structured Thought Process. The method is both efficient and effective. That said, using this approach is not without risks.
Risk #1: Confirmation Bias
While it’s great to have experience and prove your hypotheses are correct, that same experience carries risk with it. Confirmation bias – the tendency to look for or interpret information in a way that confirms your preconceived ideas – is the biggest risk you face when using a hypothesis-driven approach like the Structured Thought Process.
No one wants to be wrong so it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking disproving your hypothesis means you made a mistake. That fear of being “wrong” can lead you to wear blinders when you’re conducting analysis. You might ignore or dismiss facts contrary to your hypothesis. You might only look for data that proves you’re “correct” which can then skew your analytical results. Before you know it, you’re making a case based upon incorrect information. You find you’re like a horse wearing large blinders that only allow you to see down a very narrow path, ignoring things outside of your field of view.