Thursday, February 21, 2008

Our intuition is not Rational!

6 weeks ago, I read this piece by Robert Rubin – an optional reading for the beginning for the Decision Making class.

“…the intellectual framework through which I viewed everything that came my way, including the decision-making that has been the critical core of my professional life, both on Wall Street and in government. … I believe that decision-making will be at the core of your lives, too, no matter what you do. The only question will be how well you make those decisions.”

Just for these words, this reading should be made mandatory. Not just for a course in Decision Making, not just for an MBA degree, but for life itself.

12 years ago, as an undergraduate student of Physics, I learnt that logic and philosophy are two sides of the same coin. Over time, I forgot about it.

Cut to 2008. Berlin. ESMT. A 2-credit course in Decision Making. Exam day. Last class with Francis De Vericout.

Six minutes after the test, I was pissed off. If I had only 20 more minutes, I could’ve cracked it. Heck, I wanted to crack it and I hate myself when I know I could’ve but never did so. And I didn't want to disappoint the professor.

13 minutes post the test, I read Robert Rubin again. I was wise once more (at least for a while).

Ah hindsight.

Like with most special things in life (and thus so with Decision Making, our point being very obvious here!), it is the journey that is the destination. When I told my brother about the class, he cheekily retorted, “ I hope you can now be trusted not to take the stupid decisions like you used to”. Ouch. Well, we’ll see.

Well, it was a steep learning curve. But I think and hope, a relatively permanent one. I hate to admit it, but over the last few years I’ve seen complacency creep over like moss. There was comfort and inertia.


Empirical studies indicate that training in decision analysis is correlated positively with general aptitude to make sound decisions and can prevent common decision traps.

So, I’m hoping to be a part of the sample that continues to prove the above!

Some philosophies can give us the means of determining and understanding choices, responsibility, and consequences to behavior – it is up to us take what we can. And so long as the net pay off is positive, and there’s happiness associated with it, it was a journey that was well worth it.

The module on decision making gets firmly classified here.