Overconfidence, Confirmation bias, and Strong Advocacy can be a powerful combination in stifling debate and dialogue. I saw this in a number of senior teams that I facilitated, however it surfaced dramatically when I was facilitating a planning process for a Board recently.
These were highly expert & committed individuals who were finding it hard to shift their frame of understanding beyond their professional lens, and their foresight and decision making was suffering because of it.
After gaining their trust, we as a group focused on a few metacognitive and reflective processes, some of which included:
Naming the observed behaviours and third positioning it, thereby enabling the group to reflectively look at themselves.
Broadening their understanding about the nature of knowledge, expertise and decision making.
Identifying Reasoning and Intuition biases
Practising skills around balancing both advocacy and inquiry, using issues from the agenda as it surfaced.
Practising Generative Listening Skills.
This was a great start and my challenge to them was to maintain the momentum.
In my work with senior teams this takes sustained effort and practise. It will not work if it is another thing we have to do. It will work if it is built into the ELT/Board meetings as BAU.
This is both a skill building activity and an intentional metacognitive process to increase the breadth and depth of understanding, lifting the gaze and rising above the deep trench of professional practice.
MetaCognition: Is knowing about knowing. How do I come to know what I know? It is about being critically aware of your own awareness and what constructs the ways that you see the world.
Confirmatory Bias: Seeing and interpreting the world through your own lens, leading to confirmation of what you believe. It becomes a self-reinforcing loop.
Strong Advocacy: Persuading and Selling your issue and story at the detriment of enabling understanding or listening to others. A strong advocate can stifle questioning and inquiry, this can be magnified if the strong advocate also has positional power or influence.
Generative Listening: Being present with your whole being to what is happening. Seeing and feeling the whole message beyond what is said. Being in communion with the other.