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Roshni Shamim

Tashfia Shamim

Ensuring bias-free decisions

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Existing reward systems often honor spontaneity and experience. Yet, we continue to make bad decisions with terrifying consequences. 

What if someone told you instead that it is wiser to take your time for your next big decision? 

Humans are emotional beings equipped with cognitive biases inherent in how we think. A bias is a strong preconceived notion about something that allows us to quickly make sense out of a situation, even when we do not have complete knowledge about all alternatives. 

The mother of all biases that permeate subjective thinking is overconfidence. 

Here are some research-backed recommendations on how to prevent bias from leading you to a suboptimal solution in your next decision:

  1. Use decision analysis tools

Decision analysis tools guide us toward more logical conclusions. These procedures require us to quantify and place a value on each alternative in a decision. Afterwards, we specify probabilities associated with different outcomes from these options using statistical methods to determine the optimal choice. 

  1. Acquire expertise

Expertise and experience are not the same. 

Relying on life experience for decision-making can promote passive learning. Judgment skills cannot be transferred from one environment to another without the risk of misremembering feedback on the efficacy of past decisions. To overcome this, we need to understand the various ways in which bias can influence us individually, in groups, and be proactive in learning. 

  1. De-bias your judgment

De-biasing takes time and must be conducted regularly. The process is divided into unfreezing, changing, and refreezing practices and habits. The first stage requires explicit unfreezing of ingrained thought processes and habits. In the ‘change’ stage,  we can consider alternatives to our habits, decisions, and preconceptions by playing our own devil’s advocate. The ‘refreeze’ stage involves assessing decisions made after completing the last two stages through regular self-check-ups to ensure that they reflect the positive change. 

  1. Reason analogically

Reasoning analogically is a process where we try to implement a level of abstraction in our deductions from multiple scenarios so that this overarching understanding can be applied in more than one specific situation. Learning general principles for handling a certain negotiation, for example, gives us the flexibility to know when it is appropriate to apply that principle. 

  1. Take an outsider’s view

Overconfidence in groups and as individuals can lead to uninformed optimism towards a deadline or an idea that is unrealistic. It is recommended to play the outsider sometimes and to invite outsiders to share their perspectives too. Outsides could be colleagues from different departments or close friends that you trust with your private matters. 

  1. Understand biases in others

When we can understand the biases that pervade our own decisions, we can use the same underlying concepts to identify biases in others. To do this, managers often conduct correlation and regression analyses between the external decision-maker in question and a sample that is identified as a viable comparison group. 

  1. Push for wiser and more ethical decisions

Many cost-ineffective systems still exist in the world today, and it can seem like an overwhelming task to prescribe a solution to bigger problems. However, making small changes in how common organizational decisions are made can inspire wiser and more ethical decisions. The change can be as simple as removing the requirements pertaining to age group or gender and being open to hiring neurodivergent persons for a job opening.

To further understand and improve your thought processes against bias, enroll in our free course on Critical Thinking for Professional Success.  

References:

Bazerman, M. and Moore, D., 2013. Judgment In Managerial Decision Making, 8th Edition. 8th ed. New Caledonia: Courier Westford, Inc.

MasterClass Staff. 2021. How to Identify Cognitive Bias: 12 Examples of Cognitive Bias.

BYLC Graduate Network celebrates Virtual Alumni Iftar 2021

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BYLC graduate network (BGN) celebrated the last Friday of Ramadan 2021 through a virtual alumni iftar. The alumni iftar is held every year as an opportunity for networking between BYLC graduates from all over the country. This year, the goal of the event was to check in on everyone so that we can help each other during this tough time.

The event started off with welcoming the graduates from Bangladesh and abroad with Ramadan greetings, followed by the graduates sharing their COVID-survival stories. Everyone took a moment to reflect on their lives and show gratitude to the Almighty for all the blessings that has been bestowed on us. Special guests for the event included senior manager for operations and RME, BYLC, Imran Chowdhury, and managing director & CEO of Smartifier Training and Consultation, Md. Sohan Haidear, shared some valuable advice with the graduates. Imran Chowdhury talked about the importance of mental health and active citizenship. He urged everyone to recall the lessons that they have learned on leadership at BYLC and practice them in their daily lives to help the people around them. Additionally, Sohan Haidear shared his experience with BYLC and his personal goals for Ramadan. He further discussed how to be more productive during this pandemic by practicing good habits and having control over our thoughts. He urged everyone to become better human beings and come together to take Bangladesh forward after we collectively come out of this trying time. 

As more people are facing a food crisis in this Corona situation,  BGN decided to stretch a helping hand to the underprivileged families with the support of the BYLC graduates by discussing the Ramadan 2021 project “Share to Care”. Current BGN president, Abdullah Hasan Tarek, mentioned the importance of donation during this blessed month of Ramadan. He urged BGN members to donate to the “Share to Care” project and dedicated the event to everyone we have lost due to this pandemic. The results of the”Ramadan Contest 2021″ which focused on calligraphy, qirat, and nasheed performances – was announced during the event. The judges shared feedback about the performances and appreciated the diversity of participants.

Everyone, regardless of gender, race, and religion, united to make prayers together for the betterment of Bangladesh and its people.

After the winners’ announcement of the contest, BYLC’s founder and president Ejaj Ahmad emphasized in his speech why everyone should value their relationships. “Unlike animals, human beings need interaction”, said Ejaj Ahmad. He believes that the pathway to a peaceful and happy life is to spend more time with loved ones. As the COVID situation is leading to communication gaps, he urged everyone to focus on their relationships, “Call your loved ones and talk to people.” He further talked about physical and mental fitness; He believes that we cannot survive this pandemic without taking care of our mental and physical well-being. As more people are getting stressed and anxious while staying at home during this time, they should invest in their physical and mental fitness by maintaining a healthy diet, workout at home. The president ended his speech by urging everyone to not lose hope.

Finally, the program ended with the graduates having small group sessions in the breakout room.  As many of them got the chance to reminisce about the good old days, others took the opportunity to make new friends.    

5 ways to be a creative professional

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Creativity is not an innate skill limited to those who have a strong artistic streak. It is a skill that can be nurtured and applied to any career path. 

Creative thinking skills help you:

  • perceive patterns that are not obvious to develop a new way to solve a problem
  • resolve a conflict between employees
  • make a discovery from a dataset 

This means that creative thought can be made by employees in both artistic positions and highly technical positions. 

Compiled below is a list of ways to practice your creative thinking skills in any occupation:

1. Analyzing the object or area of focus by asking clever questions

To think creatively about something, it is important to examine and understand it first to know what it means. Once you have made a thorough understanding of the object or social relationship of your interest, you can ask the following questions as creative thinking exercises:

  • What would happen if I changed something about my subject of interest?
  • What would I change or improve about this if I want to use my subject of interest in 10 years?
  • What would I do if I had a budget of BDT 10,00,000 to improve my subject of interest now?

2. Taking time out of your day to daydream

It is all too easy to get into the habit of completing the main tasks at hand and then spend leisure time on Netflix or browse social media. It may seem counterintuitive to sit and do nothing for an hour, but that’s exactly what you need to do to get into an open-minded thought process facilitating creative thinking activities in an era of information overload in a highly charged urban life. 

To practice, look at the things around you and ask yourself the 3 questions from our earlier prompt. 

3. Getting organized with your time for cohesive thinking

Now that you are familiar with how to analyze and ask clever questions and are also working on the method of daydreaming, you can put these habits to practice on your own or with your team by allocating a fixed amount of time every day to think creatively about new projects or ideas. To ensure chances of success during these daily or weekly sessions, it is recommended to plan these sessions around a specific topic or object of interest.

4. Communicating your ideas and listening to others

Your ideas can only truly be appreciated by others if you communicate them effectively. To do this, you can practice your written and oral communication skills. Successful creative thinking and problem-solving require gaining a thorough understanding of the situation as a premise. To do this, it is important to ask the right questions and be a good listener. When sharing your idea, you can excite and entice listeners by pitching ideas in 2-3 sentences and with short presentations. 

5. Being a team player with members from different backgrounds

Great innovators need people around so that they can work together to conceive ideas and implement them effectively. This involves the notion of ‘bouncing ideas’ back and forth between your team members and networks from different specializations to evolve ideas. This can be practiced in work teams, networking events, or workshops. 

Creative thinking skills require daily practice. Enroll in our certified course,

Creative Thinking in a Rapidly Changing Workplace, to learn in more detail creative thinking barriers and techniques to implement innovation in the face of disruption and limitations.

BYLC Ventures holds its largest virtual bootcamp to date for its 3rd cohort

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What is demanded from a founder to truly succeed in the fast-evolving startup ecosystem? Does the responsibility of a founder only constitute effective leadership, or does it demand a deeper blend of other values like perseverance, grit, adaptability, dedication, empathy, a strong value system, credibility, and relevant experience? How important are the characteristics of a founding team to succeed and what are the challenges a founder should acknowledge before scaling their venture?

These, along with important tools and frameworks for constructing a world-class pitch deck and the techniques for delivering a fantastic elevator pitch to attract investment were the major learning objectives for the BYLC Ventures: Cohort 3 Bootcamp. 

BYLC Ventures held a six-day-long virtual bootcamp with more than 200 founders from 105 selected startups from May 4-9, 2021. From 105 startups, the top 30 will be selected to go forward in the final round. From the final group of 30 startups,  the jury will select 5 startups who will receive seed funding of  BDT 800,000 with the option of an additional BDT 1,500,000 as scale-up funding. The start-ups will also gain access to a world-class business accelerator program, in-house mentoring and networking support, legal and virtual CFO support, as well as a co-working space in BYLC’s Mohakhali office. These chosen start-ups will also receive rigorous leadership training.

The intensive and interactive bootcamp sessions covered various aspects of developing a start-up idea – from identifying a real problem in society, refining the start-up’s solution for the problem, to making an understanding of the customer persona and demographics of whom to offer the solution. Sessions also enlightened the diverse audience of Bangladesh-based founders on the art of storytelling for business, developing a go-to-market strategy, preparing and presenting accurate financial data and forecasts, the local legal and regulatory infrastructures to navigate, and effective methods for user research and customer feedback. The sessions were supplemented with workshops where founders worked with the facilitators to iterate their business model and develop their pitch decks. 

The bootcamp was co-facilitated by BYLC Ventures’ success partner, BetterStories Limited, alongside Shadman Rahman, Senior Product Manager – Exploration Portfolio, Innovation, Digital & Strategy, Grameenphone Limited; Ejaj Ahmad, Founder and President, BYLC; and Barisha Rabbe, Manager, BYLC Ventures. 

Boosting emotional well-being in remote work and study set-ups

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It has been over a year since the pandemic took over and disrupted our daily lives. Since then, we have experienced a sharp decline in mental health worldwide, especially among young people. 

The good news is that there are ways to help ourselves feel a little better. Here are some habits for boosting emotional well-being that can help individuals cope with their mental health in better ways.

  1. Maintaining a regular schedule:

Adapting your daily schedule from pre-covid times can create a sense of normalcy. When you outline your tasks, define the goals you want to achieve at the end of the day, and consciously set aside smaller and longer breaks to recuperate during your workday, you will feel less overwhelmed and more in control. 

You willl notice that the daily routines of successful people have ample amounts of time set aside for work and play- and they stick to it. Outside of fixed hours for work and study, you can also set aside some time to spend with people you care about and who in turn give you positive energy. Evenings are the best time to follow your self-care routine, while mornings are great for a quick stretch or run.

  1. Consuming media mindfully:

Continuous exposure to news, social media, and other forms of media exposes you to a plethora of opinions placed between facts and very controlled snippets of the lives of others, all dressed with a generous helping of dopamine when consumed addictively. 

Your media consumption habits are a critical influence on the perceptions you hold of social reality and mental health. It is therefore important to access reliable sources for your information and news. Credible news channels to stay connected include The Daily Star and Dhaka Tribune. 

You can minimize the risk of social media addiction by striking a balance and re-establishing its purpose – to stay connected with the people you care about and engage with the communities you want to be a part of. Social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook, messaging apps like WhatsApp, workplace apps like Slack, and video call apps like Zoom and Skype can all be used mindfully to keep in touch with collaborators, colleagues, friends, and family.

  1. Getting some physical activity:

No one is recommending you to run 400 meters every day – unless your body can handle the strain. Instead, you can set aside 30 minutes of your day for a long walk, some aerobic exercise, yoga, and stretches according to your own needs. This does not mean you need to head to the gym right away! Instead, you can access workout routines from fitness experts in bitesize videos on YouTube to develop your home workout routine. As long as you can get your heart beating every day, it will help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. 

  1. Doing a task that you enjoy, for yourself:

Whether it is an art and craft project you’ve laid off for a while, a cake that you never got around to baking, a game you wanted to play with your friends, yoga, community service, journaling, or a children’s book you want to re-read, set aside some time to do what will bring you joy and contribute to your well-being.

Work, studies, and self-development for our careers are only one aspect of our multifaceted lives. To perform well and reap benefits from opportunities, it is important to first focus on how we are doing. 

To learn more about ways to improve your emotional well-being in your everyday life, you can take our certified courses in Emotional Intelligence and Overcoming Procrastination: Tools and Tactics, available online for free. 

Parenting amidst the pandemic

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Before the pandemic, all of us lived our simple lives, hustling through the day while the little ones stayed busy with their fun social activities at school. These social activities such as outdoor games, group art projects, and school dramas played an integral role in developing  children’s social and communication skills. They supported their healthy psychological development by generating positive social experiences and sometimes even useful learnings from the not so positive experiences. They nurtured children’s creative outlook on life.

Unfortunately during the pandemic, this creative environment has suddenly transitioned into an obscure gloom, stripping all the vibrant colors from our lives and throwing us into dark ends. Suddenly, kids exploring the world through rose-tinted glasses have been drenched wet with the dark murky harshness of our current reality.

The lockdown has submerged us into incessant uncertainty and obscurity. It has not only changed our daily routine but has also aggravated mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Just like us, our little ones are going through a difficult time at this moment.

Discussed below are four possible ways we can help our little ones in this difficult time:

Be honest about the pandemic

Make sure your kids clearly understand the situation. Information should not be hidden or distorted while making your kids aware of the situation outside. Educate them about the necessary precautions and the negative consequences if not followed properly.

Acknowledge their feelings

In this difficult time, your child might feel sad and sometimes anxious. In circumstances like these, you can encourage discussions acknowledging their emotions and try redirecting them to more positive or productive directions. You can encourage them to brush up on their creative and social skills, and perhaps acquire new ones in the lockdown.

Follow a routine

A little bit of structure in your little one’s lives can go a long way in terms of ensuring a balance in their lives during lockdown. For example, kids can go to bed and wake up at a fixed time. Again, having meals regularly at specific times or going for pre-planned study sessions in a dedicated set-up can help them cope with this new normal.

Have fun indoors

Arranging family games and movie nights can help to ease the stress of your kids. Also, planning cultural nights and even recalling old memories in a group discussion will improve their mood.

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