In a classic, Decision Traps, the authors, J. Edward Russo and Paul J.H. Schoemaker, write on the difficulty of excellent intelligence gathering.
Our judgments, estimates, and information often suffer from systematic biases.
We are overconfident: We think we know more than we do. That often means we examine too little information; ask the wrong questions, and fail to think critically in making judgments.
We rely on the most available information rather than the most valuable, especially when information is available because it was acquired recently or in a particularly vivid experience.
We anchor our estimates of what is unknown on something we already know, and usually fail to adjust sufficiently for other factors.
Thus, to master intelligence-gathering we must start by asking three critical questions:
1. How much do we really know?
2. Is our knowledge base truly representative?
3. Are our estimates and judgments sound, or have we relied excessively on an easily available anchor?
Most of all, mastering the intelligence-gathering phase of decision-making requires a systematic approach and awareness of how overconfidence, anchoring, and availability can bias us.