Why embracing randomness is sometimes better than having a strategy.

There is a really cool article about the science of randomness over at: http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/is-the-most-rational-choice-the-random-one/  The tag is – if you can’t choose wisely, choose randomly.
Here’s a synopsis of the article and the research cited by the article.

Rationality is great – but there is often a randomness to what is going on and can’t be avoided. If we strive for perfect (which is not attainable), we often miss the good.

To make this make more sense.  If you can’t find a good reason for doing something, finding a reason, any reason, even a bad reason is our default as humans. That’s why rationalizing has a negative connotation. It means that in the absence of good reasons, we are making up reasons in an attempt to bring order to our decision making.

And while that’s normally a good thing, it turns out that  if we use bad reasons we often end up with bad outcomes.  Which means, we would have had better results if we had chosen what to do at random.  And yes, there is evidence this is true in some situations.

So, for a situation in which choosing randomly is better, it’s best to accept that and embrace randomness through a process called, sortation.

Let’s take hiring for an example. Often our reasons for hiring people is arbitrary. We rationalize why we pick one candidate over another.  But actually, we would probably have better results if … once the criteria for basic qualifications are met – the person who gets the job out of several candidates is chosen by random lottery.  This would replace arbitrary bad reasons with randomness, which is actually likely to give us a better outcome, despite the counter-intuitive nature of this approach.

The benefit of adding randomness into the hiring process would be evident. Imagine what our work forces would look like if we did hire people randomly – assuming our basic hiring criteria were met.  We would probably have a more diverse workforce.

I think the key, like anything, is to know when to employ reason and when to give yourself over to random selection. And the solution, as always is to challenge our own assumptions. If we find ourselves searching for reasons we need to question whether we are rationalizing or not. And if we are, perhaps consider experimenting with random selection instead. What’s the worst that could happen? You already don’t have good reasons for making a choice. So flip a coin and see what happens.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...