PSYCHOLOGY OF STRATEGY

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PSYCHOLOGY OF STRATEGY

HOW TO THINK ABOUT THIKING

STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP REQUIRES AWARENESS OF YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS

LOGICAL FALLACIES, BIAS, INFLUENCE, PERCEPTIONS, DEEPER UNDERSTANDING

STRATEGIC THINKING CAN BE IMPROVED WITH PRACTICE; REGULAR RUNNING IMPROVES ENDURANCE, BUT IT DOES NOT IMPROVE TECHNIQUE.

BY ANALYSING THOUGHT PROCESS, AND BECOMING AWARE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES AT WORK, A LEADER CAN IMPROVE HIS STRATEGIC THINKING.

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PSYCHOLOGY OF STRATEGY

UNDERSTANDING

IT IS SAID THAT "KNOWLEDGE IS POWER"

KNOWLEDGE IN ISOLATION DOES NOT ENABLE US TO UNDERSTAND

ANALYSIS AND JUDGEMENT EQUIPS LEADERS WITH INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT TO MAKE EFFECTIVE DECISIONS

UNDERSTANDING INVOLVES DEVELOPING YOUR KNOWLEDGE TO A LEVEL THAT ENABLES INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT.

 

INSIGHT – KNOWING WHY  SOMETHING HAPPENED

FORESIGHT – KNOWING WHAT MAY  HAPPEN

 

DEVELOPING UNDERSTANDING RELIES ON HAVING THE SITUATIONAL AWARENESS TO IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM.

 

ANALYSIS OF YOUR SITUATIONAL AWARENESS PROVIDES GREATER INSIGHT.

APPLYING JUDGEMENT TO THIS ANALYSIS PROVIDES FORESIGHT.

COMBINING THIS GIVES DEEPER UNDERSTANDING.

 

  • PROVIDING THE CONTEXT TO MAKE BETTER DECISIONS
  • SUPPORTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF POLICY, STRATEGY, AND PLANS
  • ACHIEVING INFLUENCE
  • FOCUSING ON A PARTICULAR ENVIRONMENT
  • DEVELOPING AN APPRECIATION OF THE ACTORS WITHIN AN ENVIRONMENT
  • DEVELOPING EMPATHY WITH AN INDIVIDUAL, GROUP, OR COMMUNITY

THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF UNDERSTANDING;

  1. INDIVIDUAL – THIS IS DEFINED AS THE PERSONAL INTERPRETATION OF FACTS WITHIN A PERSONS MIND
  2. COLLECTIVE – THIS IS THE SHARED PERSPECTIVE HELD BY MEMBERS OF DISTINCT GROUPS. THIS HAPPENS IN PROFESSIONS, INSTITUTIONS, POLITICS, AND RELIGIONS.
  3. COMMON UNDERSTANDING – THIS IS WHEN DIFFERENT DISTINCT GROUPS NEED TO CO-OPERATE FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE. THE ABILITY TO COMPREHEND HOW OTHERS PERCEIVE SOMETHING IS NEEDED.

THESE PRINCIPLES AIM TO INCREASE AWARENESS OF OUR OWN STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, AND BIASES.

 

  • SELF-AWARENESS
    • IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHY OR HOW WE KNOW SOMETHING. WE SHOULD AUDIT OUR KNOWLEDGE, TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION OUR OWN BIASES.
  • CRITICAL ANALYSIS
    • THIS APPLIES JUDGEMENT TO INTERPRET AND ANALYSE A PROBLEM, AND EXPLAIN THE CONTEXT THAT THE JUDGEMENT IS BASED ON. 
  • CREATIVE THINKING
    • THE EXAMINATION OF PROBLEMS, OR SITUATIONS, FROM AN UNORTHODOX PERSPECTIVE.
  • CONTINUITY
    • IN AREAS WHERE CHANGE IS SLOW, OR LASTS A LONG TIME, MAINTAINING YOUR LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING REQUIRES CONTINUITY. ACHIEVING THIS REQUIRES AN EFFECTIVE NETWORK OF INFORMATION SOURCES, A COMMON WAY OF STORING KNOWLEDGE, AND THE SHARING OF INSIGHT.
  • COLLABORATION
    • SHARING INDIVIDUAL UNDERSTANDING TO CREATE GREATER COLLECTIVE UNDERSTANDING CAN LEAD TO SIGNIFICANT BENEFITS.

PSYCHOLOGY OF STRATEGY

ASSUMPTIONS AND BIAS

WHERE INFORMATION IS LACKING, ASSUMPTIONS ARE USED TO FILL IN THE BLANKS

NOT ALL ASSUMPTIONS ARE CREATED EQUAL

COGNITIVE BIAS ARE OFTEN SUBCONSCIOUS FLAWS IN DECISION MAKING

AN ASSUMPTION IS A JUDGEMENT OR ASSERTION THAT WE CONSIDER TO BE TRUE, WITH LITTLE OR NO PROOF.

 

THE KEY TO THIS DEFINITION IS THAT SOMETHING IS BELIEVED TO BE TRUE.

MOST STRATEGIES FAIL DUE TO INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS AND INDIVIDUAL BIAS.

 

INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS CAN CAUSE LEADERS TO IGNORE ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS AND DISREGARD INFORMATION THAT DOES NOT FIT THEIR VIEW.

BEING CONSCIOUS OF WHAT ASSUMPTIONS ARE BEING MADE, AND CONTINUOUSLY IDENTIFYING THEM CAN HELP KEEP YOUR DECISION MAKING RIGOROUS.

 

ENSURE THE FOLLOWING IS NOT HAPPENING TO YOU:

  • INFORMATION BEING DISCARDED BECAUSE IT DOES NOT FOLLOW PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE.
  • INFORMATION BEING IGNORED BECAUSE IT DOES NOT FIT A PERSONS BIAS TOWARD A CERTAIN SOLUTION.
  • SOMETHING BEING MISINTERPRETED BECAUSE NOT ENOUGH ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS ARE BEING CONSIDERED.

BIAS IS PART OF THE HUMAN CONDITION, WHICH LEADS TO THE DISTORTION OF THINKING AND PERCEPTION. THIS THEN LEADS TO FALSE ASSUMPTIONS.

 

BIAS CAN BE INFLUENCED BY A PERSON’S RELIGION, RACE, GENDER, EXPERIENCE OR THEIR BACKGROUND.

  • EVOKED SET REASONING
    • WHEN A PERSON USES A DOMINANT LINE OF LOGIC BASED ON PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE, WITHOUT EXPLORING ALTERNATIVES.
  • PREMATURE CONCLUSION
    • THIS USUALLY RESULTS FROM A DESIRE FOR SIMPLE SOLUTIONS, OR A RELUCTANCE TO BE CONTROVERSIAL.
  • MIRROR-IMAGING
    • THIS IS WHEN A PERSON JUDGES AN UNFAMILIAR SITUATION ON THE BASIS OF A FAMILIAR ONE. PROJECTING EXPECTATIONS ONTO SOMETHING UNUSUAL WITHOUT FULLY UNDERSTANDING.
  • AUTHORITY PRINCIPLE
    • DEVELOPING A PREFERENCE FOR ONE SOURCE OF INFORMATION AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS.
  • ANCHORING
    • A PERSON’S THINKING IS DOMINATED AND OVER INFLUENCED BY THAT OF THE PREDECESSOR OR ‘EXPERT’.
  • BANDWAGON EFFECT
    • THE TENDENCY TO BELIEVE THINGS BECAUSE MANY OTHER PEOPLE DO.
  • BELIEF BIAS
    • BASING ASSESSMENTS ON PERSONAL BELIEFS.
  • BIAS BLIND-SPOT
    • NOT FACTORING IN POSSIBILITY OF YOUR OWN COGNITIVE BIAS.
  • CONFIRMATION BIAS
    • SEARCHING FOR INFORMATION THAT ONLY SUPPORTS YOUR THOUGHTS.
  • DISCONFIRMATION BIAS
    • SEARCHING EXCLUSIVELY FOR INFORMATION THAT DISPROVES THE HYPOTHESIS.
  • ENDOWMENT EFFECT
    • PEOPLE VALUE SOMETHING MORE THE MOMENT THEY OWN IT.
  • ILLUSION OF CONTROL EFFECT
    • THE TENDENCY TO BELIEVE YOU CAN CONTROL, OR INFLUENCE, SOMETHING THAT YOU CLEARLY CANNOT.
  • INFORMATION BIAS
    • THE NEED TO SEEK INFORMATION EVEN WHEN IT CANNOT AFFECT ACTION.
  • LOSS AVERSION EFFECT
    • THE TENDENCY FOR PEOPLE TO PREFER AVOIDING LOSSES, RATHER THAN AQCUIRING GAINS.
  • COLOUR PSYCHOLOGY BIAS
    • WHEN CULTURAL SYMBOLISM OF CERTAIN COLOURS AFFECT REASONING.

PSYCHOLOGY OF STRATEGY

CRITICAL THINKING

IT IS SAID THAT "KNOWLEDGE IS POWER"

HOW TO ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE, AND USE IT SOLVE PROBLEMS

OVERCOMING LOGICAL FALLACIES

CRITICAL THINKING HAS CLEAR ATTRIBUTES, SUCH AS CLARITY, ACCURACY, COMPREHENSIVENESS, AND RELEVANCE. THESE DEPEND ON THE SELECTION OF SOUND EVIDENCE AND SKILFUL REASONING. 

CRITICAL THINKING CONSTANTLY CHALLENGES THE THOUGHT PROCESS (THE ASSUMPTIONS, CONCEPTS, CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, CONSEQUENCES, AND CONTEXT), AND ACTIVELY SEEKS ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS AND SOLUTIONS.

AS PART OF THIS, CRITICAL THINKING PROTECTS YOU AGAINST PERSONAL BIAS AND LOGICAL BIAS.

WE RECOMMEND CLICKING HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

A FALLACY IS REASONING THAT IS LOGICALLY INCORRECT, UNDERMINES THE LOGICAL VALIDITY OF AN ARGUMENT, OR IS RECOGNISED AS BEING UNSOUND. ALL FORMS OF HUMAN COMMUNICATION CAN CONTAIN LOGICAL FALLACIES. THE RANGE OF VARIETY OF FALLACIES MAKES THEM CHALLENGING TO CLASSIFY.

THEY CAN BE CLASSIFIED BY THEIR STRUCTURE (FORMAL FALLACIES) OR CONTENT (INFORMAL FALLACIES).

 

  • FORMAIL FALLACIES
    • THESE ARE FLAWS IN LOGIC, WHEREBY THE CONCLUSION IS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE PREMISE. EITHER THE PREMISE IS UNTRUE, OR THE POINT IS INVALID.
  • INFORMAL FALLACIES
    • INFORMAL FALLACIES TAKE MANY FORMS AND ARE WIDESPREAD IN EVERYDAY OCCURENCE. OFTEN THEY INVOLVE IRRELEVANT INFORMATION, OR BASED ON INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS.
  • STRAW MAN
    • BY EXAGGERATING, MISREPRESENTING, OR COMPLETELY FABRICATING SOMEONE’S ARGUMENT, IT’S MUCH EASIER TO PRESENT YOUR OWN POSITION AS BEING REASONABLE.
  • THE BANDWAGON
    • JUST BECAUSE A SIGNIFICANT POPULATION BELIEVE A PROPOSITION IS TRUE, DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MAKE IT TRUE. POPULARITY ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH TO VALIDATE AN ARGUMENT, THOUGH IT’S OFTEN USED AS A STANDALONE JUSTIFICATION OF VALIDITY. ARGUMENTS IN THIS STYLE DON’T TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHETHER OR NOT THE POPULATION VALIDATING THE ARGUMENT IS ACTUALLY QUALIFIED TO DO SO, OR IF CONTRARY EVIDENCE EXISTS.
  • APPEAL TO AUTHORITY
    • IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THIS FALLACY SHOULD NOT BE USED TO DISMISS THE CLAIMS OF EXPERTS, OR SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS. APPEALS TO AUTHORITY ARE NOT VALID ARGUMENTS, BUT NOR IS IT REASONABLE TO DISREGARD THE CLAIMS OF EXPERTS WHO HAVE A DEMONSTRATED DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE. HOWEVER, IT IS ENTIRELY POSSIBLE THAT THE OPINION OF A PERSON OR INSTITUTION IS WRONG.
  • CORRELATION/CAUSATION
    • IF TWO THINGS APPEAR TO BE CORRELATED, IT DOESN’T NECESSARILY INDICATE THAT ONE OF THOSE THINGS CAUSED THE OTHER. THIS MIGHT SEEM OBVIOUS BUT IT CAN BE CHALLENGING TO SPOT IN PRACTICE – PARTICULARLY WHEN YOU REALLY WANT TO FIND A CORRELATION.
  • THE FALSE DILEMMA
    • THIS MISLEADS BY PRESENTING COMPLEX ISSUES IN TERMS OF TWO INHERENTLY OPPOSED SIDES. INSTEAD OF ACKNOWLEDGING THE MOST (IF NOT ALL) ISSUES CAN BE THOUGHT OF ON A SPECTRUM OF POSSIBILITIES, THE FALSE DILEMMA FALLACY ASSERTS THAT THERE ARE ONLY TWO MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE OUTCOMES.

PSYCHOLOGY OF STRATEGY

PERCEPTIONS

HOW PERCEPTIONS SHAPE "REALITY"

DOES THE INFORMATION INFRONT OF YOU INDICATE WHAT YOU THINK IT DOES?

ACCURATE PERCEPTION REQUIRES UNDERSTANDING AND AWARENESS

PEOPLE THINK THAT, IF THEY ARE OBJECTIVE, THEIR BRAIN RECORDS REALITY – IN THE SAME WAY WE SEE THE WORLD WITH OUR EYES RECORDING THE STATE OF REALITY AROUND US. 

 

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS IS THAT WE CONSTRUCT A REALITY. 

 

WE MUST UNDERSTAND, AS WELL AS BE AWARE.

 

PEOPLE CONSTRUCT THEIR OWN VERSION OF REALITY ON THE BASIS OF THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO THEM.

IT IS OFTEN SAID THAT PEOPLE PERCEIVE WHAT THEY WANT TO PERCEIVE. HOWEVER, IT IS OFTEN A CASE OF WHAT PEOPLE EXPECT  TO PERCEIVE.

 

EXPECTATIONS HAVE MANY SOURCES; PAST EXPERIENCE, PROFESSIONAL TRAINING, CULTURAL NORMS. ALL OF THESE INFLUENCES PRE-CONDITION US TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO CERTAIN KINDS OF INFORMATION, AND INTERPRET THEM IN A CERTAIN WAY.

IT IS PROVEN, SCIENTIFICALLY, THAT PERCEPTIONS AND MIND-SETS ARE QUICK TO FORM, AND SLOW TO CHANGE.

 

IN AN EXPERIMENT, SUBJECTS WERE SHOWN A BLURRED IMAGE OF AN EVERYDAY OBJECT, WHICH BECAME SHARPER OVER TIME.

THE SUBJECTS CREATED AN INITIAL HYPOTHESIS ON WHAT THE PICTURE WAS OF, AND WERE RECORDED ON HOW MUCH TIME IT TOOK FOR THE IMAGE TO BE BROUGHT INTO FOCUS UNTIL THEY GUESSED CORRECTLY.

THOSE WHO HAD LONGER WITH THE AMBIGUOUS STARTING IMAGE TOOK LONGER TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS.

WITH THE ABOVE POINTS IN MIND, HOW DO WE PERCEIVE THINGS CORRECTLY?

 

  • FIRSTLY, SELF-AWARENESS IS KEY. BEING AWARE THAT THE INITIAL HYPOTHESIS WE FORM MAY BE WRONG.
  • INCREASING THE AMOUNT OF INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO US CAN SHARPEN THE IMAGE.
  • OUTSIDER VIEWPOINTS CAN RESULT IN ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS THAT WE MAY NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF OURSELVES – THIS IS OFTEN A GOOD ARGUMENT FOR INCREASED DIVERSITY.

PSYCHOLOGY OF STRATEGY

INFLUENCE

STRATEGY REQUIRES INFLUENCE

THAT MEANS BUY IN FROM STAKEHOLDERS, BOARD MEMBERS, OR OTHER ACTORS TO HELP YOUR STRATEGY WORK

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND JUDGEMENT CAN HELP CREATE SUCESS

IN ORDER TO INFLUENCE THE DECISIONS OF AN INDIVIDUAL, GROUP, OR ORGANISATION (REFERENCED HERE AS “ENTITY”), YOU MUST FIRST IDENTIFY THEIR MOTIVATIONS FOR ACTION.

 

WHAT IS THE ENTITY DOING, OR PLANNING TO DO?

 

WHAT OUTCOMES ARE THEY EXPECTING?

 

WHO IS MAKING THE DECISION?

 

WHEN IS THIS INTENDED TO HAPPEN?

 

USING THE ANSWER TO THESE QUESTIONS AS A BASIS, WE CAN BEGIN TO ASK WHY.

BY FINDING COMMON GROUND IN THE WHY TO AS MANY MOTIVATIONS AS YOU CAN IDENTIFY, INCREASES YOUR ABILITY TO INFLUENCE THE ENTITY’S ACTIONS.

WHILE OUR SECTION ON ASSUMPTIONS AND BIAS IS A GUIDE TO WHAT TO BE AWARE OF IN YOUR SELF, IT CAN BE A HIGHLY USEFUL TOOLKIT FOR INFLUENCING OTHERS.

 

TAKE THE LOSS AVERSION BIAS FOR EXAMPLE. BY POSITIONING YOUR PROPOSAL IN A WAY THAT EMPHASIZES THE POTENTIAL PROTECTION AGAINST LOSS, RATHER THAN THE GAIN, YOU CAN TAP INTO A SUBCONSCIOUS BIAS TO INFLUENCE A DECISION.

OFTEN A TACTIC USED BY PROFESSIONAL NEGOTIATION TEAMS, POWER – OR THE PERCEPTION OF POWER – CAN INFLUENCE ACTIONS AND DECISIONS.

 

ONE DOES NOT NECESSARILY NEED TO HAVE POWER FOR OTHERS TO PERCEIVE THAT THEY DO.

TONE OF VOICE, BODY LANGUAGE, REPUTATION, AND MANY OTHER TECHNIQUES CAN BE USED TO SHOW POWER IN ORDER TO INFLUENCE.

 

FRAMING IS THE UNSPOKEN CONTEXT THAT DICTATES THE RULES OF ANY INTERACTION. CONTROL THE FRAME, GAIN THE POWER.

 

A SIMPLE WAY OF CONTROLLING THE FRAME IS BY CONTROLLING YOUR OWN EMOTIONS. BE CALM WHEN OTHERS ARE NOT, AND DO NOT RESPOND EMOTIONALLY TO WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY. THIS IS THE ORIGIN OF THE “SHARK” SLANG USED IN MODERN BUSINESS, GIVING THE PERCEPTION OF UNDERSTATED POWER.

 

CONTROL THE ENVIRONMENT OF A MEETING. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOSTING A MEETING IN SOMEONE’S OFFICE, AND HOSTING A MEETING IN AN EMPTY WAREHOUSE IS STARK AND INDUCES PRECONCEIVED IDEAS ABOUT HOW THE MEETING WILL CONCLUDE. WE DON’T RECOMMEND A WAREHOUSE, BUT THIS EXAMPLE PROVIDES CLARITY ON THE CONCEPT.

 

PUBLIC RELATIONS PROFESSIONALS ARE EXPERTS IN CONTROLLING THE FRAME AND CHOOSING THE NARRATIVE. 

PEOPLE ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE INFLUENCED BY PEOPLE THEY LIKE. THIS IS LOGICAL, HOWEVER MANY PEOPLE FORGET THIS KEY POINT.

BY GAINING RAPPORT THE LIKELIHOOD OF INFLUENCING THAT INDIVIDUAL GROWS.

ONE WAY OF GAINING RAPPORT IS THROUGH MIRRORING. MIRRORING IS COPYING ELEMENTS OF THE PERSON YOU ARE TALKING TO.

 

BODY LANGUAGE IS AN EFFECTIVE VERSION OF THIS. MIRRORING THE WAY A PERSON IS SAT, STOOD, RESTING, OR LEANING SUBCONSCIOUSLY CREATES A LINK BETWEEN THE TWO PEOPLE.

 

MATCHING THE TONE OF SOMEONES VOICE IS A SIMILAR TECHNIQUE, AND ONE THAT MANY OF US ALREADY DO.

 

COMEDY AND BANTER ARE VERY EFFECTIVE TOOLS IN GETTING AN INDIVIDUAL TO LIKE YOU, HOWEVER THIS SHOULD ALWAYS BE RESERVED FOR LATER IN THE RAPPORT BUILDING PHASE, AS THE POTENTIAL TO GET IT WRONG IS HIGH EARLY IN THE INTERACTION.

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