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April 2012

The Irrationality of Choice when Thinking Fast and Slow

Think fastThink fast (Photo credit: freddie boy)

As marketers, we often rely more on instinct and perceptions of experience than rational thought. Marketers justify this type of decision making by convincing ourselves that when predicting the future, it's difficult to use the past or historical fact. Analysts on the other hand use historical fact and data as the only basis for decision making.  They introduce a bias that often causes organizations to not see what is happening around them.  This is how companies such as Folger's Coffee miss dramatic changes in a market, such as the coffee revolution sparked by a company like Starbucks.

In the book "Thinking Fast and Slow" , Daniel Kehneman demonstrates how bias influences decision making and how our minds are subject to systematic errors. As we all understand, but rarely consider, intuitive preferences consistently violate the rules of rationale choice. For example, if you like Ford cars, are you more likely to purchase Ford Stock, even if the stock isn't the best rational choice?  

The notion of "Thinking Fast and Slow" refers to two systems in the mind, system 1 and 2. System 1 operates quickly without voluntary control, while system 2 are subject to the amount of concentration and reasoning you apply to a problem.  For example, the author points our that system 2 applies to what we think of ourselves, while system 1 is the snap judgement we make when viewing others. Another example is the bias to act on an immediate emotional reaction, even when you are manipulated, instead of assuming or understanding that in fact you were manipulated into a decision, resulting in an error of judgement.

"We can  be blind to the obvious, and we can be also blind to our blindness"

The book also explores the two dimensions of ourselves, the experiencing self, and the remembering self, which as noted by the writer, "do not have the same interests." For example, "what makes the experiencing self happy, may not make the remembering self happy."  Another important point is that we are much better at recognizing mistakes in others, than spotting errors of judgement made by ourselves.

"Thinking Fast and Slow " is helpful in developing a higher degree of self awareness and promises to have a positive direct effect on your ability to formulate and execute marketing programs. 


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Channeling Don Draper

Don DraperDon Draper (Photo credit: Christina Saint Marche)

Sometimes life should imitate art.  In this scene from Mad Men, Don Draper demonstrates how belief in great strategy and brilliant creative can be the difference between success and failure.  Don knows that sometimes it's not what you can measure, but what you understand to be true.  Don knows that when presenting an idea, you need to believe in it to a greater extent than a client's general level of skepticism and discomfort.

You can watch Don Draper in action here.


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