NEW EPISODES EVERY MONDAY and THURSDAY Are you a director, senior executive, investor, or someone who’s just curious about corporate governance? Tune in for insights about how things work inside and outside the boardroom, based on 20 years of experience and interactions with thousands of directors from around the world. Each episode lasts about one minute and will provide you with questions to ask yourself, your board and your management team, designed to optimize the way your organization makes decisions. Matt Fullbrook is a corporate governance researcher, educator and advisor located in Toronto.
Monday Sep 11, 2023
Monday Sep 11, 2023
Welcome to the final episode in the OMG urgency miniseries. I recently learned about a mindblowing – to me – cognitive bias that I’d never heard of before. It’s called subtraction neglect. Check out the HBR article “When subtraction adds value” by Adams, Converse, Hales and Klotz, which is based on their very cool research. If you’re more of a podcast person, check out the Less is More episode of Katy Milkman’s Choiceology show. Anyway, I’m pretty sure subtraction neglect might be the insidious heart of our urgency problem. In short, it basically means that when facing a challenge, our brains have a really easy time coming up with solutions that ADD stuff, and a very hard time accessing solutions that SUBTRACT stuff. If you’re anything like me, you’re already going “ohhhh snap! This already FEELS true!” And it is true! When we have a problem, we come up with all kinds of ideas about what we can add to the mix to make things better. The board’s feeling overburdened by the pre-reads? Let’s add an executive summary. We’re struggling to find time to spend on strategy? Let’s add an annual offsite. Makes sense, right? The ultra-weird thing about subtraction neglect is that all it takes is a simple suggestion along the lines of “by the way, you’re allowed to solve this problem by REMOVING something,” and suddenly we can imagine tonnes of new solutions that just weren’t occurring to us before. I won’t lead you too hard here, but think back to the board being overburdened by pre-reads, or the struggle to spend time on strategy. Chances are, you’ve already got some neat ideas about how to improve things through subtraction. And if we solve all our problems by adding stuff, what’s the result? Urgency! Well, by the way, you’re allowed to solve this problem by removing something.