Frost Advisory #624 – Simple And predictable: The Enemy Of Problem Solving

On last week’s show I shared how our minds crave simplicity. Our ego seduces us to consider things close to us as more important than things more distant.

I’m often brought into conversations about a dip in the ratings or a fundraiser falling short of the goals. (Rarely do we have these conversations when things are humming along). The quick answers are always telling.

First, they are always simple. “We’re playing too much Praise and Worship.” “We’re playing too little Praise and Worship.” “We need more variety.” “My neighbor doesn’t listen anymore.”

Rita in accounting will inevitably react with, “We’re not playing enough tobyMac.” Or too much.

The reason why those simple and immediate reactions can be misleading is they likely reflect things that person believes anyway, even if the ratings and the fundraiser went up.

“Confirmation bias is the tendency of people’s minds to seek out information that supports the views they already hold. It also leads people to interpret evidence in ways that support their pre-existing beliefs, expectations, or hypotheses.”

Ethics Unwrapped

Here is an idea to help you avoid defaulting to confirmation bias:

First, disregard answers that are simple and predictable, described as System 1 responses by Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman in his nifty book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

“System 1 is our in-the-moment thinking. It’s the thought that comes to us ‘automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.’

System 2 is more complex and takes more effort, concentration and time.

When you think of the implications, you begin to realize the pitfalls and dangers of System 1. Because it strikes first, if we’re not consciously aware, our brains don’t even get the chance to process System 2.”

Here’s a way to discipline yourself into thinking in the more complex System 2 where most real solutions are found:

First, make a list of everything that may have impacted this situation that is WITHIN your control, such as an up-to-date researched playlist, talent connecting emotionally and relevant to your listeners’ lives, or a marketing campaign designed to attract new listeners or get current ones to listen more frequently.

Second, make a list of everything that may have impacted this situation that is NOT WITHIN your control, such as top panelists or diary keepers’ change in lifestyle (school, vacation, COVID-19, panel churn), world or local events, or that a competitor went all disco and syphoned off all your Bee Gees’ fans.

“People are drawn to black and white opinions because they are simple, not because they are true. Truth demands serious effort and thought.”

Donald Miller

John Frost

John has been a successful major market DJ and Program Director for such companies as CBS, Gannett, Cap Cities, Westinghouse, Multimedia, and Sandusky and publishes the Frost Advisory.

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