Don't Fall Victim to Optimism Bias

Would you bet your company's livelihood on the spin of a roulette wheel?  Of course not, but risk issues aren’t new, yet a lot of companies are playing the probability game.  They’ve fallen into the habit of the “Optimism Bias.”  In an article by Eastern Kentucky University’s Dr. Richard Osbaldiston, Ph.D., he defines “Optimism Bias” as:

“…the belief that each of us is more likely to experience good outcomes and less likely to experience bad outcomes. The key to optimism bias is that we disregard the reality of an overall situation because we think we are excluded from the potential negative effects.”

A lot of organizations are complacent when it comes to planning for risk – even to the point where the unaddressed issues of yesterday remain the same today. 

Illustrating that point is an article entitled, “10 talking points about cybersecurity and your business”, found at  The ten points are:

  1. You’re never too small to be attacked
  2. Sometimes the big guys get it most wrong
  3. Sometimes, only personal experience trumps complacency
  4. You’re not just responsible for your own network
  5. Consumers play an important role
  6. Companies should plan for the worst
  7. This is about corporate culture, not just technology
  8. Communication is key when a breach happens
  9. Cybersecurity is a bit like road safety…
  10. But risk isn’t always a bad thing
Even though the list was published four years ago, all of the points are still valid.  But with the tendency toward optimism bias, companies still tend to downplay risk.
A better viewpoint is from the risk management perspective.  Understanding your risk doesn’t just mean developing plans for failures and incidents for those what-if scenarios.  Rather, it is an opportunity to understand your operational processes, investigate shortcomings within your organization, and improve areas for the sake of efficiency.  These improvements range from improving internal processes, implementing high-availability IT solutions, as well as drafting a comprehensive business continuity plans.  It starts with identifying the risks in your environment, addressing those risks, and getting closer to Operational Excellence:

“A philosophy of the workplace where problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership results in the ongoing improvement in an organization.”

Part of the challenge tends to be how to start.  Here’s how - call us at 651-429-9991 to schedule an assessment of your environment to start the process.   Don’t let “Optimism Bias” be your default means for addressing risk within your organization. 

We can help, after all, our mission is Helping Businesses Stay in Business!