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EDITOR'S NOTES: Have You Met the Four Villains of Decision-Making?

July 24, 2015
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Thinking narrowly and being over-confident can prove disastrous when it comes to scanning the landscape to plan for the future

Every single adult human being regularly participates in decision-making processes, and yet making decisions is so often a fraught, minefield-strewn process, isn’t it? I was fascinated to come across a book on the topic: Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, by Chip and Dan Heath, brother authors who co-wrote Switch and Made to Stick—books about creating change and building ideas that last, respectively.

What the Heath brothers offer in Decisive is a very useful set of questions and thoughts for how to successfully engage in decision-making. I loved their schematic of the “four villains of decision-making.” The four  are as follows:“narrow framing, which is the tendency to define our choices too narrowly, so we see them in binary terms”; confirmation bias, which he describes as “our normal habit in life to develop a quick belief about a situation and then seek out information that bolsters our belief”; “short-term emotion”; and finally, overconfidence. As the brother-authors put it: “The problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know.

The story that the Heaths tell about overconfidence in decision-making is absolutely golden. They write: “Our search for the final villain of decision-making takes us back to January 1, 1962, when a young four-man rock-and-roll group named the Beatles was invited to audition in London for one of the two major British record labels, Decca Records. ‘We were all excited,’ recalled John Lennon. ‘It was Decca.’ During an hour-long audition, they played fifteen different songs, mostly covers. The Beatles and their manager, Brian Epstein, were hopeful they’d get a contract, and they waited anxiously for a response.” The verdict? No go. “In a letter to Epstein,” they write, “Dick Rowe, a prominent talent scout at Decca Records, wrote, ‘We don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups are out; four-piece groups with guitars, particularly, are finished.’” Quite the futurist, wasn’t he??

Meanwhile, fast-forwarding to the present moment in U.S. healthcare, a quote widely attributed toYogi Berra comes to mind:“The future ain’t what it used to be!” Indeed, the pace and intensity of change in our industry at the present moment are absolutely mind-boggling for everyone, and in fact, many are overwhelmed. Trying to predict trends can be positively paralyzing, and yet all of us in healthcare are finding ourselves compelled to take action based on our best understandings of how trends might be playing out, even as we all know that the future of our industry will involve concepts such as population health, value-based delivery and payment, and patient-centrism.

How well might you be able to predict the trajectory of the healthcare IT vendor space? This issue includes our annual Healthcare Informatics 100, a unique compendium of data about the largest healthcare IT vendors by revenue, as well as a whole package of content around that compendium, which has become a unique informational resource for the healthcare industry. That package also includes our Most Interesting Vendors features, in which we look at several vendor companies whose trajectories we believe help illuminate the broader overall trajectory of the healthcare IT vendor sector; as well as Up and Comers, portraits of smaller vendors really making their moves.

We hope you’ll enjoy this issue’s cover story package, and will find it useful to you. Just remember the Heath brothers’ advice on decision-making, and when scanning the landscape in order to make decisions going forward, do make sure you don’t pass by that boy band from Liverpool because you think that boy bands with guitars are passé.