Active Stocks
Mon Dec 04 2023 14:23:11
  1. Reliance Industries share price
  2. 2,419 1.07%
  1. Power Grid Corporation Of India share price
  2. 212.45 1%
  1. State Bank Of India share price
  2. 591.1 3.37%
  1. Tata Steel share price
  2. 130.95 0.77%
  1. HDFC Bank share price
  2. 1,600.5 2.89%
Business News/ News / Business Of Life/  Francesca Gino | Do you go off track easily?
Back Back

Francesca Gino | Do you go off track easily?

Even a connection as simple as sharing a birthday could affect your choices and decisions. This book tells us why we get distracted, and how to stay on course

Francesca Gino says people around you can serve as natural reference points.Premium
Francesca Gino says people around you can serve as natural reference points.


A bitter cup of coffee or even a traffic-jammed commute can derail the logical process of decision making, says Francesca Gino, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, US. With Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, And How We Can Stick to the Plan, Gino joins the ranks of other innovative writers on decision making such as Dan Ariely, Dan and Chip Heath and Daniel Kahneman.

In the book, Gino analyses the subtle forces that sidetrack us from our decisions and goals, and lays out principles for correcting or countering those forces. She has previously written on subjects like the hidden advantages of quiet bosses and the power of “thanks", in various publications. Sidetracked is her first book and brings together her social experiments and earlier research, as well as lots of little stories from business and entertainment, even Chinese folklore. Edited excerpts from an email interview:

What triggered your interest in the decision- making process?

I often observed situations where I or others made poor decisions and reached outcomes I/they regretted. I discuss a lot of the research on decision making I conducted over the last 10 years in Sidetracked.

What are some of the reasons for decisions getting derailed?

Sidetracked: By Francesca Gino, Harvard Business Review, 260 pages, Rs995.
View Full Image
Sidetracked: By Francesca Gino, Harvard Business Review, 260 pages, Rs995.

Forces from within include factors that reside in people’s minds and hearts. Examples include people’s inaccurate and overly positive beliefs about their abilities and competence, the emotions caused by events unrelated to the decision at hand, and an overly narrow focus when evaluating information to inform their decisions.

Forces from relationships refer to factors that characterize ties and interactions with others. People are social beings, and relationships are
beneficial to their well-being. Yet bonds with others often derail their decisions due to various factors, such as the difficulty of taking the perspective of others, the similarities people share with others, and the comparisons they make between others and themselves. Finally, forces from the outside world refer to situational factors. They include irrelevant information, subtle differences in the way decisions are framed, and the structure of the context in which people operate.

As my research suggests, the forces that derail people’s decisions are predictable: They systematically intervene to sway behaviour. Yet they are also unexpected: People generally do not realize these forces are influencing their decisions.

What are the nine principles for guarding against important decisions getting derailed?

1. Raise your awareness. Because our views of how capable and competent we are as individuals are often overly positive, we rely too much on our own information. By raising your awareness, you can keep your self-views in check and recognize when they may be taking you off track.

2.Take your emotional temperature. Although there are many situations in which our feelings about a decision we are facing tell us something about the decision itself, there are also situations where irrelevant emotions—those caused by a completely unrelated event—take us off track. By taking your emotional temperature before making a decision, you can reflect on the causes of your current feelings, and examine whether irrelevant emotions are clouding your judgement.

3.Zoom out. We often focus too narrowly on the decision at hand and our own views about it. As a result, we fail to see the bigger picture, including other people’s roles. Zooming out involves widening our focus when considering information to include in our decision-making processes so that we don’t miss important details.

4. Take the other party’s point of view.

5.Question your bonds. As social beings, we easily form connections with others based on subtle factors, such as sharing a birthday. These connections may expand our networks, but they can also derail our decisions. By questioning your bonds, you can reflect on your ties and similarities to those around you and consider whether these bonds are affecting your choices for the worse.

6. Check your reference points. The people around us provide natural reference points to help us understand where we stand across a variety of
dimensions, from attractiveness to performance. How we measure up in these comparisons matters and can easily result in derailment. By checking your reference points, you can
uncover the real motives behind your decisions and readjust accordingly.

7. Consider the source. This principle highlights the value of carefully considering the source of information we would like to use to make decisions. We may not realize that the information is not relevant for the decision at hand. For instance, we look at the effort others put into their decisions to evaluate the quality of those decisions. We examine the outcomes of decisions to evaluate their quality. And we also discount how situational factors led to a given outcome. These biases cause us to judge others inaccurately.

8. Question the frame. Simple changes in framing can have large effects on our motivation to act, as well as on the motivation of others. By investigating the frame, you can ask questions about the way tasks, rewards and choices are structured and learn how to avoid decisions getting derailed.

9.Make your standards shine. Our plans commonly reflect our desire to be moral individuals. Yet, from the amount of lighting in a room to the amount of resources at our disposal, subtle forces can send us off course. By making your standards shine, you can remind yourself of the importance of keeping your standards salient and become more likely to stick with them.

As I suggest in my book, by using these principles, managers—and people more generally—can learn to successfully follow through on their intentions and build systems to help them and
others act according to their intended goals.

Milestone Alert!
Livemint tops charts as the fastest growing news website in the world 🌏 Click here to know more.

Catch all the Elections News, Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Updated: 26 May 2013, 10:24 PM IST
Next Story footLogo
Recommended For You
Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App