People decisions … support your brain by data analytics

Our brain is lazy by nature …


95% of the time, we are using System 1 of our brain. Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, states that System 1 is unconscious, instinctive, and generates fast reactions. Thought of as a reflex, System 1 triggers an automated thinking process. Since it is considered nearly an instant decision, System 1 can have systematic errors for everyday decisions. There is little to no attention required for System 1, thus, making it possible to quickly decide the multiple decisions necessary to get through the day (Kahneman, 2011). 

Unlike System 1, System 2 is  the slower, more rational, and deliberative notion of attention. System 2 requires our focus because it is a part of how we consciously do work, build relationships, and develop ideas. The self-aware process is critical and logical by constructing thoughts in a series of steps (Kahneman, 2011). Let’s say that all people’s decisions should be part of System 2 thinking. 

People’s decisions always have essential consequences – for the people themselves, their environment & the organization. 
Some examples of people decisions we take in our organizations: select a candidate for a vacancy, choose participants to the leadership program, decide on a promotion or dismissal, give feedback, whom to engage in a strategic project, …, …
Because System 2 demands more energy and focus, there is a high risk we rely on System 1 for these complex people decisions …

Using System 1 thinking for people decisions

  • leads to yes/no discussions, like yes he/she is a successor for position x or no he/she lacks potential for a leadership role, …
  • increases the cost for the organization, because for instance, recruiting the ‘wrong’ profile for the job will lead to low performance and, in the long term, will need a remplacement.
  • can have a negative impact on a whole team; for instance, admitting someone to a leadership development program, who in the eyes of the team is not fitted for a leadership position, will affect the credibility of not only the development program itself but also the leadership’s policy  in the organization.

Are you convinced to use System 2 when it comes to people’s decisions? 

My 2 tips for Talent Management decisions.

1. Use System 2 to clarify the consequence of each decision
Instead of a Y/N reasoning – Is Marc a high potential or not? -, we should reflect on … IF Marc shows the willingness and has the potential to move to more complex roles, what feedback will we give Marc on competency X and leadership skill Y? How can Marc better prepare for his next move and decide together on what actions to take?

2. Use System 2 to analyze all available information
Combine input coming from different sources to take your decision:  a career conversation with the employee, a feedback session with some clients, an evaluation form by the manager and data analytics. One way to gather data on an evidence-based way, is by using a tool like the Talent Review Profiler. Based on a completed questionnaire by the employee and several persons who collaborate with this employee, you get insight into the potential, risk of leaving, group affect, group impact, performance, …
All excellent starting point to reflect and stimulate System 2 thinking in putting forward actions to mitigate the risks & opportunities, linked to this employee. 


4 Books To Strengthen Your Skills On The Talent Review

I like to read.
I like the smell of a brand-new book, the silence when reading. 
The saying goes … Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. Well, I must admit that I prefer the first. 😊

Clients regularly ask my advice on what they should read to learn more on Talent Review & Succession Management. There are a lot of interesting books out there and it all depends on what information you are looking for. I selected 4 must reads, for you to invest in a Talent Review that is more structured, more strategic, and less biased.


The most famous book Daniel Kahneman wrote – “Thinking Fast and Slow” – is a must read for anyone interested in biases and their impact on our daily decisions.
And oh no… after reading this book, I thought I’d better change job, because our brain is not fit for taking though, complex decisions, purely based on input of other humans. And this is what happens in most Talent Review Meetings. Being aware of those potential biases is a good start.

A second tip goes to 2 very pragmatic books by Doris Sims Spies. A first one should be read by each facilitator of a Talent Review Meeting: ‘The Talent Review Meeting Facilitator’s Guide’. It explains in detail what actions to take to prepare, facilitate and follow-up on the Talent Review. The second one is most clarifying for leaders involved in the Talent Review & Succession process: ‘The 30-minute Guide to Talent and Succession Management’. Starting from the idea that busy managers can learn about the topic in about 30 minutes by reading this book.

‘Talent Wins’ is another must read, this time by each CEO who is convinced that talent drives strategy (and not the other way around). What I particularly like are suggestions like:
“the story is not about stars, but about building a robust talent pipeline”;

“hierarchy can isolate and bury talent”;

“calibrate top talent by using data analytics”;

Enjoy the reading and let’s discuss our insights.