Home Concepts Decison Making & Problem Solving A crisis in the rejection of expert knowledge, and the acceptance of “Google-fueled, Wikipedia based, Blog-sodden” information

A crisis in the rejection of expert knowledge, and the acceptance of “Google-fueled, Wikipedia based, Blog-sodden” information

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A process for engagement that includes mutual respect and courtesy

The lack of process and courtesy is best demonstrated by recent videos of parents screaming abuses at local school boards concerning mask mandates and vaccinations. Police are occasionally called in given the level of vitriol and abuse. When questioned after these interactions by local news journalists, these parents often describe vague and unsubstantiated claims “they read somewhere” but vehemently support. Alternatively, I recently participated in a political forum via an organization called “Braver Angles”. The intent of this organization is to bring people of very different political views together to engage in constructive debates on tough issues. The process and rules that underpin these debates produce effective discussions, improved relationships and constructive outcomes.

Mechanisms for improved expert guidance and decision-making

In their book “Noise” (Daniel Kahneman Oliver Sibony and Cass Sunstein) these authors describe how bias and “noise” can negatively impact the decision-making of leaders, experts and people in general. They also provide techniques and mechanisms – some quite simple – that can be applied to significantly improve understanding and decision-making by reducing noise. This is a fascinating and extensive topic, and I have included a summary on this topic (primarily based on Kahneman’s earlier text “Thinking Fast and Slow”) in an appendix to this article (see below).

 Experts must be held accountable.

If experts are in business for example, company culture (embedded in process) should encourage leadership level experts to be challenged (courteously of course). There are specific techniques and processes that organization can introduce to encourage this kind of debate. I experienced how effectively these processes can operate when consulting with Chevron some years ago and was exposed to the impact it had on this organization some years later when these processes where largely disbanded. Academic research has a sound model of ensuring experts and senior leaders are held accountable and are kept honest.

Lay people should be held accountable.

In a business context, employees who engage in debate with experts need to have done their homework. Specific guidelines must be in place for these kinds of debates. For example, in the appendix to this essay, I  describes the impact of using simple checklists for people who engage in debates with experts and decision-makers and could easily be applied, for example, to the parent engaging with the school board ending with police escorting her out. While checklists (that outline the need for preparation, rules and protocol) may not totally eliminate bad behavior, they could pre-empt much of the animus.

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