Overcoming Availability Bias in Project Management

Overcoming Availability Bias in Project Management
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Availability bias, at its essence, is laziness. It is taking the easy way out, by using the information that is easiest to get and avoiding the rigor of a more disciplined approach. However, as project managers, we are there to stretch beyond such a limitation. We need to be aware of when we may be most in danger of availability bias.

Here are some key things you can do to help you avoid availability bias and thus give yourself and your team the benefit of clearer, more comprehensive and accurate thinking.

Avoiding Availability Bias

  • Build a team with diverse experiences and points of view. This alone will limit availability bias because people will challenge one another’s thinking naturally.
  • Seek broad input from your team. Whether in group discussions, or by encouraging others to analyze problems from different perspectives, you can create an environment that works against availability bias.
  • Set high standards for clear thinking. Be suspicious of the information that comes to you and demand that it passes your test for rigor, breadth and depth, and good management of availability bias.
  • Utilize your network when making decisions. Allow others to bring perspectives to you that simply could not exist inside your organization.
  • Take on an attitude of continuous learning and apply it on the job and demand it of others. This will thwart the laziness aspect of availability bias.

Next Steps

As with many things, the first step to managing availability bias is to become aware of it. Try to satisfy yourself that you and your team have done your homework – and are thinking clearly and comprehensively – on your problem.

Are you aware of availability bias in your work, and can you see the potential harm? What are you going to do about it in your specific situation?

This post is part of the series: Decision Traps for PMs

Decision traps can cloud a PMs thinking, causing huge amounts of time, money and pain. In this series, we are exploring four that are particularly relevant to project managers.

  1. How to Tame Availability Bias
  2. How to Limit the Social Loafing Effect
  3. Experience Bias - Leverage (Don’t Misuse) Your Experience
  4. How to Motivate and Avoid Motivation Crowding