Description: Surfacing, confronting and challenging your implicit biases (assumptions that you don't know that you make) and understanding how these biases influence your ability to make consistently sound decisions.
Thinking Partner Notes
What’s the fiction: I know all of my potential blind spots and I definitely don’t have potential for bias.
What's really true: No you don’t and you definitely do.
Example: Ibrahim was a C-suite executive with a Global oil company. We began to discuss his perceived ability to collaborate with team members–in his view he "got along with everyone, and had no problems." It came as a shock when one of his teammates, Josef, said he was difficult to work with and often closed-minded. Ibrahim asked for the data behind this perception. Josef walked him though the last four meetings, and how each time he presented an idea, Ibrahim shut it down with no explanation. Yet later, when another teammate offered a very similar idea, Ibrahim endorsed it gladly. In fact, this happened so often that everyone on the team was tuned into the dynamic except Ibrahim. Wanting to really learn from this, Ibrahim explored what could be behind his bias. Turns out Josef was French, and Ibrahim had spent his first year after college working in Paris where he was treated poorly and overlooked by all his senior advisors. He didn't realize until now that he had unsurfaced biases against Frenchmen. Being Muslim and African he knew what it was like to be discounted. He asked Josef to call it out in the future anytime he witnessed Ibrahim not listening to his ideas.
Things to try: 1) Acknowledging that you have potential for bias; 2) Not rushing to judgment in your first impressions; 3) Learning about how and why stereotypes exist; 4) Not rushing to ignore unexpected ‘data’; 5) Immersing yourself in unfamiliar experiences.
Next steps: 1) Schedule an activity that places you in a foreign or unfamiliar environment; 2) Prior to the activity, taking note of your expectations for the event / occasion; 3) Experiencing the event with an open mind; 4) Following the activity, comparing your earlier expectations with your experience.