Banishing Bias from Billion-Dollar Decisions


The Disease Strategy Team at an innovative pharmaceutical company carries the weight of the firm on its shoulders. With billions of dollars in revenue on the line, the senior team members recommend which scientific opportunities to pursue, and a poor decision at any point could threaten the existence of the company. The organization needed to ensure that the Disease Strategy Team is making the best recommendations possible.


Disease Strategy Team leaders’ experience as scientists and business leaders was an undoubted advantage. But it sometimes led to unquestioned assumptions and an inability to see outside of one’s customary frame of view, which negatively impacted business decisions at the highest level. A truly impactful learning solution required helping senior leaders see from alternative viewpoints while still taking advantage of their experience.


We zeroed in on the factors that were negatively impacting decision making at the highest levels, such as bias and the framing effect. Our goal was to prevent leaders from being blinded by their own assumptions, working patterns, and past experiences.

In a two-day virtual workshop, we gave leaders of the Disease Strategy Teams realistic scenarios to think through and required them to document every aspect of their problem-solving approach. They presented their decisions and, more importantly, their thought process to the rest of the group for comparison. This led to discussions about risk, assumptions, and biases as the leaders tried to reconcile their different approaches.


Disease Strategy Team leaders found the training so valuable that they wanted their entire team to experience it as well. The learning experience is now being translated to an interactive eLearning course to replicate the experience for all team members, as well as any future additions to the team. The leaders requested additional sessions on some of the key topics right away, as well as job aids to help keep the learnings top of mind.

Ready for true behavior change?

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram