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Learn the Secrets of Making Better Decisions

It happens again and again. We’re on the spot – a decision with long-term impacts on our personal or working life needs to be made. We think that because we care about this, and because we’re turning it over and over in our minds that we will make the best choice. But research tells us otherwise.

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Executive Coach and Leadership Developer, Robert Farndell, who is a speaker at next week’s Psychology Festival of Learning, points out that there are a host of deep-seated biases, as well as a range of ‘shortcuts’ in the ways our brains are wired that lead us to making decisions that are predictable rather than optimal.

Related: 5 Enterprise Marketing Secrets From Ahead-of-the-Curve Companies Like Hubspot

Our built-in biases

Poor decision-making in our lives can lead to loss, stress, frustration, conflict and despair.

“When making career decisions, personal decisions and business decisions, we all have to live with the consequences,” Robert says.

“Unfortunately, our brains tricks us along the way, and we fall prey to in-built biases that shape our choices without us even knowing.”

An example of this is the “Confirmation Bias”, where we focus on the information that supports our pre-existing beliefs.   Another is the Narrow Framing bias where we tend to frame our decisions between very narrow tramlines.

Over-confidence in our abilities

Researchers have found that most of us are excessively optimistic about our plan of action; over-estimating the likelihood of positive outcomes and under-estimating the chances of negative ones.

An over-confidence in our abilities, as compared to others, also regularly trips us up.

In our eagerness to claim the credit for past successes, we often overlook how the role of chance and circumstance, as well as the support of others actually part of an achievement we regard as ‘ours’.

Escalation of commitment

Another common decision-making pitfall that many of us can relate to is what is termed as the “Escalation of commitment” which causes us to justify investing more and more resources in a losing proposition just because of all the emotion and energy, time and money we have already committed.

While we all have a mind field of biases that set us on an autopilot course when we are making decisions, there are also “heuristics”, brain shortcuts that we need to be aware of.

As Robert makes clear, brain heuristics exist to serve us in making quick sense of the world in a moment.

Related: 6 Secrets of Business Leaders Who Built Hugely Successful Companies

They are very useful, in say, fight or flight situations. But they also come out to play when we need to make long-term decisions, and then may well be a lot less helpful.

Circumvent your biases

But as Robert points out it is not enough to just know what pitfalls we could fall prey to when making an important decision. We actually need to employ strategies so that we make decisions in a very different way.

“You need to use a decision-making process that forces you to engage your full thinking about the decision at hand,” he says.

“For example, to circumvent the Confirmation Bias, you can:

Isolate your ego – We hate to be wrong, and we’re desperate for others to validate our position. If you can detach yourself from your need to be “right” you will be more open to absorbing non-confirming data.
Seek disagreement – Foster an environment where it is not only okay for people to disagree with you but also encouraged.
Ask better questions – “Where has this course of action not worked well?”
Seek wider data – Understand that you are constricting your filter and force yourself to step back to get a wider view.”

Robert Farndell is talking about “Making better decisions during times of change” on Tuesday, 8th September at SACAP’s Johannesburg campus.

Engaging for Change is the theme for the annual Psychology Festival of Learning, which will be hosted by SACAP (The South African College of Applied Psychology) at their Johannesburg campus on 8 and 9 September and at their Cape Town campus from 10 to 12 September.

Tickets for the Psychology Festival of Learning as well as the programme with speakers details and topics are available on the website.

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This Is A Call To The Curious – Applications For The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellowship Programme Are Open

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation is calling on all young, entrepreneurially-minded South Africans to enlist in the most comprehensive and stimulating Fellowship opportunity in Southern African. Applications opened on 22 January 2018.

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The Foundation takes a holistic approach to entrepreneurial development and believes that entrepreneurially-minded individuals with ethical values and strong leadership skills hold the key to change in South Africa and the globe. The Foundation supports entrepreneurs to improve the socio-economic landscape of Southern Africa. Further, it provides youth who demonstrate the highest potential access to education and assists them with cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset.

The Fellowship’s entrepreneurial and personal development programme runs throughout the academic year alongside the Candidate Fellow’s university studies. The Fellowship provides access to university education and includes comprehensive tertiary financial support to selected students.

Criteria for Grade 12 Learners

  • Level 5 in Pure Mathematics for Grade 11 final results
  • Level 6 average for your final Grade 11 results (excluding Life Orientation)
  • Completion of the National Benchmark Test by 30 September 2018
  • Under the age of 21 in your application year
  • South African citizens.

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

Intention to study towards a degree in Commerce, Science (excluding Medicine), Engineering, Law or Humanities (majoring in Politics, Philosophy or Economics) at the University of Witwatersrand (WITS); University of Johannesburg (UJ); University of the Free State (UF); University of Cape Town (UCT); Nelson Mandela University (NMU), Rhodes University; the University of the Western Cape (UWC); University of Stellenbosch or the University of Pretoria (UP).

What it covers

  • The full cost of university tuition
  • The full cost of university accommodation, meals, books and tutor allowance
  • A monthly living stipend
  • Academic support and access to entrepreneurial and personal development programmes
  • Mentorship from individually assigned Foundation staff as well as business mentors
  • Access to potential postgraduate funding for graduated Candidate Fellows
  • There are no postgraduate contractual obligations with the Foundation.

Related: 9 Top Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

How to apply

Visit www.allangrayorbis.org to download an application form or SMS “Gr12 and your fax number or email address” to 36777. The application closing date is the 11 May 2018.

Watch this video to learn more about the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. More information is available at www.allangrayorbis.org and www.facebook.com/allangrayorbis.

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Facebook Launches A Classifieds Marketplace In South Africa

Facebook has launched Marketplace in South Africa, offering users a single destination on Facebook where they can easily discover and buy and sell goods with other people in their local community.

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Available in 47 countries, with more than 550 million people from around the world visiting Facebook to buy and sell goods each month, Marketplace makes it easier for people to trade with others on Facebook.

Using Marketplace

  • To use Marketplace, tap on the Marketplace icon
  • To find what you’re looking for, search at the top and filter your results by location, category or price
  • To sell something, take a photo, describe your item, set your price and you are done
  • Buyers and sellers can communicate with each other using Facebook Messenger.

Related: 10 Motivational Quotes from Facebook Genius Mark Zuckerberg

Trading Safely

Facebook helps you trade safely on Marketplace by offering safety tips, privacy controls and easy-to-use reporting tools.

Top tips for trading safely on Marketplace:

Commerce Policy

Items, products or services sold on Facebook must comply with Facebook Community Standards and Commerce Policies. Please view the list of items prohibited on Facebook.

Verify the item

When buying an item, examine it carefully for quality, condition and authenticity before paying. For high-value items (watches, luxury bags), consider requesting a certificate of authenticity or proof of purchase.

Related: How You Can Avoid The ‘Facebook Effect’

Be shipping savvy

facebook-shipping-productsIf the seller offers to ship the item rather than exchanging it in person, you may not have the opportunity to verify the item before completing your purchase. You can use a service such as Standard Bank’s Shepherd to arrange safe payment and shipment. Shepherd keeps the money for a transaction in a trust account and releases it to the seller once the buyer verifies he or she has received the correct item in good condition.

Meet in a safe location

Don’t invite buyers or sellers to your home. Meet in a public place like a coffee shop or the mall. Before going, tell a family member or a friend where you will be, bring your cell phone, and consider asking another adult to come with you.

Use cash, COD, or person-to-person payment methods

Buyers and sellers may offer or accept cash or person-to-person (P2P) payments. If you choose to pay electronically using EFT, avoid payment links and log in directly through the payment method’s website. If the value of the item you intend to buy or sell requires a significant amount of cash, you might consider using a person-to-person payment method, such as PayPal or FNB eWallet.

Protect your privacy

Don’t share your financial account information (example: Payment login and password, bank account info) with buyers or sellers. Additionally, make sure your Facebook Privacy Settings are up-to-date. These settings help limit what other people can see (example: status updates, location, photos) on your profile page and what you share on Facebook.

Report someone

If you’re having a problem with someone in Marketplace, you can report them.

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5 Things SME’s Need To Be Thinking About In 2018

In 2018, small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) will be looking for a glimpse of inspiration to chart a new growth path and scale their businesses. This is off the back of a tough 2017 and previous years which have inhibited the growth of local SMEs.

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In 2018, small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) will be looking for a glimpse of inspiration to chart a new growth path and scale their businesses. This is off the back of a tough 2017 and previous years which have inhibited the growth of local SMEs.

Jesse Weinberg, Head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB Business says “Small business success becomes a monumental task when there’s arguably very little to no real economic growth overall. However every challenge presents an opportunity, and in South Africa, not only are we fortunate to consistently have SME development as a key objective on the national government agenda, but most corporates are also  hungry to shift spend to smaller businesses as part of the procurement policies.”

Weinberg says as 2018 begins in earnest, there are some important insights that business owners should consider in order to grow their businesses.

The digital economy is in full swing

SME’s that are comfortably operating without adopting digital technology in their business will likely be outperformed by their competitors unless they adapt to the current reality. Across the globe, consumers and businesses are rapidly migrating services to digital channels for its sheer efficiency, convenience and scalability. This includes basic elements like digitising accounting processes with software, through to using social media to campaign to customers.

If you’re ever unsure where to start, start by observing your customers and listening carefully to how they expect to be dealing with a business like yours – you can’t go wrong by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and then reflecting on your business through their eyes.

Related: 4 Unique Marketing Ideas For SMEs On A Budget

Expect little to no help from the economy

The Word Bank recently predicted that SA will grow at roughly 1.1% in 2018 and while this is not cast in stone, it’s a relatively firm indicator that SME’s will have to do the hard yards to engineer any form of business growth. The focus should thus mainly be on differentiating your business, products or services from your competitors through marketing or even innovation if possible.

Maximise your banking relationship

Banks are investing a lot of time to understand the needs of businesses and have some of the tools to help SME’s run efficiently. The relationship should not be only be limited to just banking. With the multitude of rewards and value-add services offering by most banks, with just a bit of time spent understanding the offerings, great value can be derived for you and your business. Examples of these offered by FNB include eBucks rewards, free Instant Accounting software and CIPC registration services.

‘Think Local, Act Global’

Your business may be based in South Africa but its potential to scale shouldn’t be hampered by your location. In other words, be open to the opportunity of growing your business beyond South African shores, especially if your service or product has universal appeal and relevance. With global marketplaces such as Alibaba and AirBnB, the world market has never been more accessible and easier to do business with.

Related: SchoemanLaw Shakes Up The Legal Industry To The Benefits Of SMEs

Avoid the race to the bottom

Market forces continue to show that consumers aren’t only focused on the cheapest product or service despite the tough economic conditions. These days offering great service will build trust and loyalty with customers and keep them coming back. If you combine this with good quality, accessible products and services you will generally have an edge over your competitors offering the same or similar products and services.

“Even though 2018 is unlikely to come with an SME development boom, a solid homegrown business can still grow sustainably. More than ever, business owners need to arm themselves with as much information and insights as they can to grow their businesses or even reduce the risk of total business failure. With South Africa’s level of unemployment showing little to no signs of reduction, we need to sustain the spotlight on growing our SME sector and offering as much support to it as possible. SME’s represent one of the most effective ways to create employment in local communities, especially if these businesses find ways to trade with customers beyond their normal operating territories.” says Weinberg.

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