So how can you be more conscious of your unconscious bias?
After doing a bit of research and testing it out myself. In my experience, activating different mindsets is key. This means being conscious in your approach and finding the right time to channel particular mindsets.
I want to take a deep dive into 2 specific mindsets — the Scout Vs Solider.
I often find myself in a soldier mindset. I am motivated, driven, I am getting shit done, I am trying to connect the dots and looking to make user insights tangible. My victory as a soldier is having an epiphany, making sense of insights and selling a concept to the client.
But there is an important mindset that needs to be given time before soldier mindset kicks in. The scout mindset. As a scout; I am looking broadly trying to get an accurate picture of the landscape and reality. I am not concerned if I see obstacles or find something that is inconvenient or sets me back. I am not looking to be right or prove a point. The scout serves to gather fundamental information to inform the soldier about the landscape.
So how can you be a good scout? I have a few ideas:
1. Go broad
This sounds simple but make sure to really understand the person you are designing for and the problem space. One story that I refer to a lot is the NASA pen. When NASA was first looking to go to the moon they realised that pens wouldn’t work in zero gravity. The Fisher Pen Company then spent $1 million dollars creating a pen that could function in space. When Soviet Union faced the same challenge; they decided to use a pencil. Don’t limit your thinking and remember to really survey the landscape.
2. Be mindful of anchoring
Anchoring is a type of cognitive bias; the idea is, as humans, we attach ourselves to the first piece of information we are given, and this anchor informs our judgements.
As an example — when people are asked to estimate the number of jelly beans in a jar, the first number that is mentioned impacts their guess. So how you frame the question will change the people’s answer. If you say “are there more or less than a 1,000 Jellybeans in the jar” people will guess much higher number then if you ask “are there more or less then a 100 Jellybeans in the jar.”
Instead, to avoid anchoring the answer you should frame the question like this: “How many jellybeans are in the jar”.
Think carefully about the questions you are asking during your research and be conscious of what could be anchoring your own thoughts.
3. Flip it
Think you have just proven something? Try to flip the scenario and prove the opposite. This can stop yourself from falling into selectively gathering insights that match your thinking and prove your point. This process can help to give you a more holistic picture.