Tausif Mundrawala in Lifestyle, Directors and Executives, Communications and journalism beBee Brand Ambassador • beBee 6 d ago · 2 min read · 1.3K

Do we really need to opt for Heuristics?

Do we really need to opt for Heuristics?


As I was on the verge of completion of the first module of a course called Career decisions: From insights to Impact-I came across a technique known as heuristics. Succinctly described this concept by none other than Professor Sharon Belden Castonguay.


It made me realize certain situations where I resorted to answering questions in haste. Sometimes we don't think twice before answering questions irrespective of what the correct answer would be. Instead of ticking the correct answer, we try to make sense of the one we selected though we know that we are unaware of that question.


A heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows people to solve problems and make judgments quickly and efficiently- described by Kendra Cherry, a psychology expert.


These rule-of-thumb strategies shorten decision-making time and allow people to function without constantly stopping to think about their next course of action. Heuristics are helpful in many situations, but they can also lead to cognitive biases. Again as explained by Kelly Cherry.


Once proven right, we tend to repeat the use of this technique again and again. Why can't we allow our mind to understand the situation well and then take corrective action? As far as studying is concerned, then our procrastinated self would resort to this technique.


We tend to develop a stereotypical image of a writer, lawyer, doctor, etc. by imagining them with ceratin looks. A bespectacled person with indelible blots of ink on the shirt needs to be an author. A person with disheveled hair should be a scientist, whereas a person with a stout built needs to be an accountant. How wrong we were to describe them according to the said stories about them.


Certain riddles need to be solved logically rather than guessing with a thumb-rule. We don't realize the significance of logic and reason unless we see ourselves into fruition. Short cuts never made anyone wise neither the irrational thinking. I am not biased with those who use this technique of heuristics, but intellectual sages have proved themselves otherwise.


It reduces the mental effort required to make choices and decisions. So depended we are on this technique that we forget to give much attention to logic and rational understanding.

Other theories suggest people substitute simpler but related questions in place of more complex and difficult questions. Again rightly stated by Kelly Cherry.


Even interviewers use this technique for evaluating job applicants. So much so that they don't pay attention to what that applicant can offer on the table.


A good example would be the protagonist of a renowned American series- The Good Wife. Here, Alicia Florrick struggles with her marriage after her husband's sex scandal. She decides to become financially independent by applying for the job of an associate in a law firm. She took a sabbatical of thirteen years after becoming a lawyer and devoting herself to her marriage and children. Many of the law firms rejected her though she is joining this field after a decade or due to her surname. She is the wife of state attorney of Illinois. She gets hired by her friend who knows her well and how intelligent she was in their law school.


That one opportunity allows her to grow, and after four years, she starts her firm. One day she met one of those law firms head repenting for not hiring her. On which she says, "Your loss".



I have described this topic to the best of my ability and invite my friends for their comments.


- penned by Tausif Mundrawala (10th July'19)


John Rylance 3 d ago · #18

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Tausif Mundrawala 4 d ago · #17

#15 First of all, thanks for sharing this buzz, my friend. Very rightly stated by you that we tend to forget to think more deliberately where it needs to be reflected upon and we rather opt for this technique known as heuristics. The moment I heard this term, I was startled by the fact that yes we use it more often than we realize.

Thank you so much for your contribution on this buzz, @Ken Boddie

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Tausif Mundrawala 4 d ago · #16

#14 I think, I have penned this buzz at an opportune time because I am getting my friends to share their experiences though they all being experts in their fields. It's really surprising that very few of them have touched this subject though it's a significant topic to be discussed.

I can't thank you enough to share your own experience, my friend, @Jerry Fletcher

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Ken Boddie 5 d ago · #15

It appears to me, Tausif, that ‘we’ (being engineers) tend to use ‘heuristics’ all the time, but primarily as an initial sensibility check to support the concepts and results of more detailed analyses. Whilst you, quite rightly, are suspicious of the use of heuristic techniques on their own, experience has taught me that ‘guesstimates’, ‘intuition’, and common sense ‘rules of thumb’, when used by an experienced practitioner in the right context, can be an invaluable and sustainable aid to confirmation, and can often reveal the flaws, in detailed analyses, of “Rubbish in ... rubbish out”. 🤗

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Jerry Fletcher 5 d ago · #14

Tausif, Great subject. I have taught "rules of thumb" in my area of expertise but my greatest joy is when a student challenges the rule and presents evidence to support her or his point. Our minds move toward heuristic (thank you for the word) thinking I believe out of a primitive need to safeguard ourselves when threatened by an environment that allows no time to think. WE can reflect on what we've done later and even see alternative approaches but I suspect that the logical approach won't get adopted because it is overridden by the more primitive parts of our brains. And so it goes.

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Tausif Mundrawala 5 d ago · #13

#10 #11 What else could one ask for than a contribution from you on this very important topic. Lot is said and written but few have dealt with this topic. Having said that very few are aware of it. I want to kind of create awareness with this buzz of mine.

Thank you so much, once again, Sir @Harvey Lloyd

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Harvey Lloyd 5 d ago · #11

Heuristics is a part of our character, the part that others experience the results.

In leadership if we can see the persons heuristics and not the resulting outcomes, we can lead them. We can see the diversity of each team members make up.

Some can change and find better integration or as a leader we can harness the individauls heuristics.

Your topic is one that is central within leadership, negotiations and critical thinking problem solving. This is the common denominator within success.

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Harvey Lloyd 5 d ago · #10

You dealt the topic a great service. Heuristics is a fascinating review of or understanding of how we communicate, problem solve and make decisions.

I would add to your thoughts that individually we do utilize heuristics to move through life with what we believe is less complexity. The challenge is when multiple people with dispirit heuristic approaches share a common goal. Managers approach this with different focus than leaders.

We trouble shoot machinery through a very specific set of guidelines. Heuristics from a leadership perspective offers a similar process. What heuristic sub routine is breaking down into emotional responses within the team? On the outside we tend to see untested heuristics as members of the team do not “want” to do something. In reality their system has a blockage that is much like a beaver dam, built through the process of heuristics.

Through self awareness discussions the team member can learn about how their systems are generating auto response sequences.

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