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Why Do Good Teams Make Bad Decisions?

25 May 2018

by Jessica Williams

Last week, Oliver James was delighted to host an impactful debate in the iconic Old Library at Lloyd’s for our clients in the insurance industry. It was a setting steeped in commercial tradition, yet a context poised to break new ground as industry influencers united to discuss the business impact of unconscious bias.

Our 75-strong audience comprised business leaders in HR, Resourcing, Risk, Catastrophe Modelling, Audit and Compliance. Together, we examined the role our instinctive judgements can play in shaping both the recruitment experience and wider business strategy.

The event was supported by Canopius, who opened proceedings by sharing their sentiments on culture, diversity and the effect of unconscious bias.

Leading executive coach Katherine Bryant, The Progress Partnership, followed suit with a highly interactive group discussion centred on recognising and challenging the biases that play into commercial decisions. The session also explored: 

  • Different types of bias, such as authority bias, affinity bias, conformity, over-confidence and anchoring
  • Where biases hide, when they prevail and how we can combat them to maximise future opportunities
  • Techniques to fairly approach innovation, leadership, decision making, relationship management, talent attraction and promotion
  • Helping our clients think about where their company is at risk from bias 

Clients described the debate as “a lot of food for thought”, “very ​helpful for our business moving forward”, and “a great event with a brilliant turnout”. Among the positive, actionable feedback about unconscious bias itself was a general consensus that companies must take notice to stop it, and educate their wider teams on the topic to make demonstrable improvements in decision-making.

“At Oliver James, we are committed to influencing our clients’ talent strategies in a meaningful way. The enthused response and thoughtful deliberations that filled the Old Library certainly highlighted the importance of enabling industry-wide debate around such pressing topics, and this is something we will continue to facilitate with our client workshop programme,” comments Sarah Coombs, Client Engagement Manager at Oliver James.

The next events will cover Recruiting Diverse Talent, Emotional Intelligence, Diversity of Thought – Embracing Conflict and Getting Smart About Disability.

“I’m always keen to learn how we can tailor our content to support our client’s unique challenges and help the market advance,” notes Sarah. To discover how we can help you, contact Sarah today on +44 (0) 203 861 9197 or

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