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The Benefits of Delaying – Not Eliminating – Intuition

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I’m a big fan of the Hidden Brain weekly radio program and podcast from NPR. Hosted by Shankar Vedantam, the program seeks to “reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.”

HB aired its 100th episode this past week, and in celebration of that milestone they featured and interviewed one of my favorite behavioral economists, authors, and Nobel laureates, Daniel Kahneman. Best known for his seminal book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Professor Kahneman’s appearance on the program did not disappoint.

Although the entire 50-minute episode is worth listening to, it was Prof. Kahneman’s description (about 38 minutes into the program) of an interview technique that he devised for the Israeli army that really caught my attention. The Israel Defense Forces needed a way to predict a given person’s potential as a soldier. A “heart-to-heart” conversation – followed by an intuitive impression recorded by the person conducting the interview – turned out to be a poor predictor of future success.

Professor Kahneman’s insight and method, which he believes is a good way for many decisions to be made, was to delay – not eliminate – the interviewer’s natural intuitive judgment. According to his method, start by breaking any given problem or subject of evaluation into different dimensions. Make purely factual judgments of each dimension independent of one another. And only after all such judgments have been made should one “close their eyes” and make an overall intuitive judgment or ranking. It turns out that the final intuitive score or judgment made at that point “is really very good” – at least as good and predictive as the average of the dimensional rankings.

At Level 2 Legal, we like to say that we start by listening. Sure – we’ve served hundreds of clients over the years, and when it comes to eDiscovery, we like to say that there’s very little we haven’t seen or done. And though we leverage and call upon our collective knowledge and experience to help serve every client, we avoid making snap intuitive judgments or recommendations until we have all the facts and understand the needs of each unique matter. It’s a more consultative – and perhaps more “Kahneman-like” – approach to client service that yields superior results.

It would be our privilege to stop and listen to your discovery needs and challenges.

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