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Captain Hindsight To The Rescue

 

If you look at history, some of the decisions with the biggest impact on the world were seemingly taken completely at random. How else can we explain Marmite? And who knows what we were thinking when we didn’t buy the emerging markets in 2009. Some of the fastest growing, global brands were down as much as 95%. The crash presented so many “once in a lifetime” opportunities, and yet most of us did absolutely nothing or, even worse, sold at the bottom (you know, "to reduce risk"). So, what is it about our decision-making process that means we get it so wrong, when it seems so perfectly obvious?

 

Recent research has shown that we make more than 35,000 decisions per day. I suppose this is true. By the time I leave for work in the morning, I have decided what I would have for breakfast, what suit, socks and underwear I am going to wear, which train to take and who is taking the kids to school. When we get to work, we have to make countless more decisions as part of tasks, functions, calculations, or assessments. All of them heavily scrutinised, analysed and possibly even used against us when we get it wrong. And I am not just talking about the compliance department. That seems like a lot of pressure to get all of these decisions right.

 

Can we get them all right or do some have priorities over others? Should we hence apply a scoring mechanism and keep track of the correctness of each decision? That way, we can learn, analyse historical patterns and potentially only make important decisions at precise time slots in the day, which would then give us the highest probability of success. And then you wonder, what about the people that make the really big decisions, how do they do it? Are they in a good state of mind, are they free of any adverse influences, and is it always a good time of the day when they make said important decisions? Yes, those people, the ones we trust with the nuclear bombs.

 

History has an unequivocal way of dealing with this, as decisions are placed within a series of actual outcomes. The effects of every decision and whether they are right or wrong are thus easy to see. And so, with the benefit of hindsight and two years removed from a seemingly random decision that will affect the fate of millions and influence generations to come, what is it today that is so obvious that it is practically screaming at us and yet seems to have so many people utterly confused? Brexit sucks!

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