Abstract/Description

**”We know what our customers want. Talking to them is a waste of time”**
**”Story Points are weird and stupid so we stopped using them and estimate only in hours”**
**”I’m basing my decision on this thing that I know is true because I saw it with my own eyes and remember it clearly”**
**”Our users really want us to add a field to the database.”**
–stuff I’ve heard while coaching teams (paraphrased)

There are a lot of Agile practices out there that, at first glance, may seem silly or arbitrary. When teams ask about why we do these things, they often hear something along the lines of ‘because that’s what the trainer at my Scrum Master certification course said to do’. It turns out, though, that there is a lot of science behind nearly every one of these practices.

Over time, our brains have evolved to help us survive in a world where we solve the same kinds of problems most days and we interact with a small and rarely changing group of people who pretty much share our thoughts and opinions. In other words, we’re optimized to function in a world nothing like the world we actually live in. To deal with being confronted with an overwhelming and unprecedented access to information our brains use mental shortcuts to make timely decisions. What could possibly go wrong? **Welcome to the world of cognitive biases.**

We’ll take a look at some of the most common biases that affect decision making. We’ll talk about why **everyone else** on social media is really stupid. We’ll explain why we did **not** pay too much for that car. We’ll rationalize why spending $100 on lottery tickets was actually a great investment. We’ll take a look at the biases other people have (but not us). Finally, we’ll learn about why all these are examples of our own biases. #TheresABiasForThat

After exploring some of these concepts (they’re features of our brains, not bugs, am I right?) we’ll talk about the real reasons so many Agile practices work and help protect us from our own brains. We’ll cover practices like story points, user stories, information radiators and more and talk about the biases they all help protect us from. Armed with this knowledge, we can start protecting ourselves from our own brains, and help make the teams we work with even more awesome.

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