Trilogy Tidings
March 2015
in this issue

     It turns out that we humans are incredibly ill-equipped to make business decisions on a purely rational basis. This reality affects all kinds of decisions, including choosing among potential new products to commercialize. You can improve your decision-making processes. But it ain't easy. 


Proud of your decision-making process?         


     I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this: Chances are your decision-making process is not very good. Why? Because your organization likely consists of human beings.


     Neal Cole makes a persuasive case that folks generally prefer gut instinct to research as the lead tool in making business decisions. They also generally adore what "experts" have to say, especially when those experts endorse their existing biases. A fully informed decision-making process is hellishly hard to implement in an organization of humans. However, such a process - however imperfect - is worth aspiring to.

Gut Instinct

     One of the most visible unsavory outcomes of our typical decision-support processes is the large number of new-product failures in commerce. And, as Adam Hartung chronicles on Forbes.com, some of these failures are rather well known: Segway, FirePhone, Google Glass. (I'm keeping my own list of likely medical-product commercial failures; I'll share that list after the sad data are in hand.) I'm not fully on board with Hartung's diagnoses and prescriptions, but there can be no question that expensive new-product failures are rampant and usually attributable to a decision-making process that leans more toward gut instinct than rigorous research.


     I've offered my prescription for better new-product screening in the form of the key questions that need to be asked in the course of a sound, pre-commercialization research effort. You can find that presentation here. (Let me know if you want to listen to the Podcast version instead.)


     One more self-serving point: Engaging an outside agent to conduct or support your investigation provides real benefit. In addition to obviously helping to establish truth, that outside agent can provide rational support for some internally held biases and rational rejection of others.


Cognitive Biases that Screw Up Everything          


     Screening potential new-product opportunities is just one (albeit a very important one) of the decisions that we all face in business on a daily basis. It turns out that we humans are incredibly ill equipped to make these decisions on a purely rational basis. There are numerous personal biases that must be overcome in dealing with co-workers, business partners, advisors, family members and friends.


     I think you will find this article from Business Insider informative and fascinating. It defines a bunch of the biases that humans harbor. My takeaway: Awareness of these many personal biases can surely be helpful in cutting through the clutter generated in our own minds, but eliminating all of them over extended periods of time and all circumstances is impossible. All we can aspire to is a diligent effort at impartiality.


What does Trilogy do? 
     Trilogy Associates facilitates business growth and renewal through commercialization of new products, providing the following services:
  • Opportunity assessment
  • Business planning and enterprise growth strategies
  • New-product conceptualization, commercialization and marketing
  • Market research and competitive assessment
  • Business development and partnering
  • Market and technological due diligence
  • Assessment of the therapeutic and diagnostic potential of novel technologies
  • Design of efficient and effective development strategies for early-stage biomedical products
  • Business and technical writing/publishing

     Inquiries to establish whether and how we might support your business initiatives are always welcome.  Contact us.

Resources from our Archives 
     Check out our Reading Room to view my published articles, presentations and white papers on a variety of topics.
     And, you can examine an archive of my prior newsletters (since February 2007).
Contact Information
Joseph J. Kalinowski, Principal