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Noreena Hertz: The Complexity of Decision-Making

ucyow3c29 January 2014

Noreena Hertz

Noreena Hertz

pencil-iconWritten by Nicholas Tyndale, Communications Director, Office of the UCL Vice-Provost (Research)

In her inaugural lecture, The Complexity of Decision-Making, UCL Honorary Professor Noreena Hertz discussed how to improve decision-making, manage information excess, assess the credibility of information and make the best use of advice.

Professor Hertz shared six insights from her latest book, Eyes Wide Open: How to make smart decisions in a confusing world, which draws on academic research and extensive interviews with “the smartest decision-makers”:

1. We need to take experts off their pedestals. We cede our decision-making power to experts too easily and uncritically, yet experts get a lot of decisions, judgements and predictions wrong. We need to understand our own cognitive biases (as should experts understand their own).

2. We need to become better information gatherers. There is valuable lay expertise and local knowledge that is too often untapped. Employees tend to make better predictions about their organisation than those in  management. Sources such as Google Trends and crowd-sourcing can provide a “truer narrative” – for example, about housing markets or pandemics – than official sources. Yet we should treat new sources of information with discretion.

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