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The Problem-Solving Process: Humans Make Mistakes And Need Tech To Make Better Decisions

This article is the first in a series on AI Impact On Business Decisions. In this first article we will explore the challenges humans have in the problem-solving process. This will include the top 5 challenges that humans and business organizations have with making good decisions. Subsequently, the rest of this series will explore the opportunities and the challenges we have had in the past with using automation in decision-making. Specifically, this will include process automation, data-driven decision-making, and lastly, AI’s impact on business decisions.

The 4 Basic Steps Of the Human Problem-Solving Process.

Military planners - the problem-solving process

Problems in business are slippery and hard to define. It is not like school, where the teacher gives you test problems to solve. Indeed, in business you have to identify the problem to solve. Worse, sometimes it can even be a perceived problem where an employee thinks there is a problem. Over the years before automation, human organizations such as the military have developed fairly sophisticated problem-solving processes that have contributed significantly to superior decision-making. 

Below is an example of a 4-step problem-solving process. See Unvarnished Facts’ A Superior Problem Solving Process: How To Produce Better Results for more details.

  1. Define The Problem.
  2. Generate Alternative Solutions.
  3. Evaluate and Select An Alternative.
  4. Implement And Follow Up On The Solution.

Human Challenges With Using The Problem-Solving Process.

So what are the challenges with human-only problem-solving processes? Also, why do we need technology and automation to include artificial intelligence (AI) to help overcome some of our weaknesses? For a quick answer, humans are prone to biases, emotions, and errors that can significantly impact their ability to make informed business decisions. While their expertise and experience play a crucial role in the decision-making process, factors such as cognitive limitations, information overload, and time constraints can lead to suboptimal outcomes. 

On the other hand, the human brain may be finite, but it is amazing in its capabilities. In fact, this is one of the reasons we have built artificial intelligence (AI) to emulate our thinking. Further, it is amazing that our decision-making and intelligence has evolved over the millennia. To summarize our transformation, Eric Colson in his article, What AI-Driven Decision Making Looks Like, says it well on how our human brain functions in regard to decision-making.

“as early hunter-gatherers, we developed a system of reasoning that relies on simple heuristics — shortcuts or rules-of-thumb that circumvent the high cost of processing a lot of information. This enabled quick, almost unconscious decisions to get us out of potentially perilous situations. However, ‘quick and almost unconscious’ didn’t always mean optimal or even accurate.”

Eric Colson

Top Challenges With the Human Problem Solving Process.

So along with our finite human brain we have inherited cognitive biases. As a result, our survival heuristics can cause less than optimal decision-making in the modern business world we live in. To detail, below is a list of challenges we have with making day-to-day business decisions.

1. Humans Have Some Degrees Of Bias. 

Bias can be conscious or unconscious. Also, it can affect the way we perceive information, interpret data, and make decisions. For more on bias, see SC Tech Insights’ Bias With Examples – Everything You Need To Know.

2. Humans Have Emotions.

Also, emotions can influence decision-making by clouding judgment, leading to impulsive or irrational decisions. Further emotions cause individuals to prioritize short-term gains over long-term benefits. For example, people have trouble accepting unexpected or disappointing data. Thus, irritated and frustrated, they can dismiss the result instead of taking action.

3. Human Error. 

Mistakes can occur due to lack of knowledge, miscommunication, or simply being human. Subsequently, these errors can lead to costly consequences such as financial losses, damaged reputation, or even legal issues.

4. Humans Get Tired Or Distracted. 

Fatigue can impair cognitive function, leading to poor judgment, decreased productivity, and increased errors. Further, this holds true when we are bored or distracted as well.

5. Human Information Processing Is Limited.  

The human brain can only process a certain amount of information at a time. As a result, this can lead to cognitive overload or information overload. In these cases, we humans will either summarize the data, misinterpret, or even ignore important information. Subsequently, this increases the chance of us making a bad decision. Additionally, we have finite memory capabilities, different levels of intelligence, and a wide level of experiences that can drastically affect our decision-making capabilities.

For more on human decision-making, see Unvarnished Facts’ A Superior Problem Solving Process: How To Produce Better Results.

A Superior Problem Solving Process: How To Produce Better Results.

Does your business feel stuck when it comes to problem-solving? It might be time to create a tailored problem solving process! Click here to discover the advantages of having a streamlined method for solving problems, the importance of prioritizing which ones to tackle first, and a 4-step approach you can customize for your business.

For more from SC Tech Insights, see our article on information technology. Also, see Unvarnished Facts for more articles on decision-making.

For more on our Series on AI Impact On Business Decisions, see links below:

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