April, 2019

Welcome to our latest members of the Global Governance Community:

 Rosa  Zeegers

Global international marketing expert ia a 
board member of AHA foundation and
advisory board member for Vision 2030 Quiddiya project in Saudia Arabia.

Dr. Ann Blackburn

CEO/Founder of Executive Advisory Forum, Ann applies her organizational development expertise to businesses spanning a wide array of industries. 

Lyndsey Zhang

Board Director ofSolar Materials Research Institute – A Hanergy, Inc. $ 4mil US corporations, Lyndsey is also

CFO of MiaSole Corporation. 

Upcoming Events



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June 3-6, 2019 

Harvard Faculty Club

Nine years running, this invigorating program addresses the challenges of global governance.

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Brain Science, Boards and Better Decisions for Better Outcomes

Brian Barnier


Brain science is more than party tricks, magical illusions, and sports psychology – in the board room it could make billions for your company.


“What were they thinking!?” you exclaimed watching a driver making a dangerous left turn, a serious social gaff, a product that is frustrating to use, or an airplane that crashed. It’s more shocking when you realize the decision-makers are smart and made thousands of prior good decisions.

Is the failure random? Or, is it the consequence of causes unfolding into tragedy?

Understanding how human thinking leads to good or bad decision is the fascinating world of “Decision Science.” More captivating is how decisions have been examined from several research disciplines to understand:

  • How fully people perceive their situation in dynamics, distance and time;
  • How people’s brain functions can be structurally blind or cognitively biased – our own worst enemy; and
  • How people process data both in itself and compared to other perceptions 

Terms of Art

  • “Structural blindness” is about organizational structures (think silos, processes and question definitions) that keep people from seeing the dynamics, distance or time implications of their environment. A classic error is missing a competitor entering “your” marketspace from what was wrongly perceived as a different marketspace (think Michelin tires, Honda cars or Amazon Web Services)
  • “Cognitive bias” is when people actually see the data, but then fail to understand the implications. A classic here is “Group Think.” One enterprising graphic arts company created a wall poster that went viral https://www.designhacks.co/products/cognitive-bias-codex-poster .

A Problem from Antiquity

Histories of Herodotus, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, and Plutarch’s Lives, (written 1900-2400 years ago) sought to peer into lessons of decision-making. According to historian Elizabeth L. Edwards, Plutarch’s Lives gave President Truman the insight that "It was the same with those old birds in Greece and Rome as it is now… …The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know."

After World War II, Decision Science became formalized in business schools as it did with Robert S. McNamara and the “Whiz Kids” who applied analytics from WWII to Ford Motor Company. For some, “Decision Science” has data, math and method connotation. For others, it is softer brain science.

Today, Widely Studied

Multiple academic disciplines compete to provide insight into decisions – for success or tragedy. Far from B-Schools, anthropologists and ethnographers are exploring decisions.

Love and Kisses

In the hit comedy, Seinfeld, the character Elaine described the perfect kiss. It’s technical analysis of an emotional sensation – helping analytical people to become great kissers. Decision Science encourages the use of data to help guard against the dangers of our own brains. At the same time, data has long been used in error or tortured into confessing the wrong answer. My colleagues and I have an entire website -- www.feddashboard.com -- devoted to busting myths of markets and macroeconomics – revealing that what is widely assumed isn’t true. To seek elusive truth, Decision Science brings both hard and soft data into a decision process.

Better Decision Processes Lead to Better Decisions that Lead to Better Outcomes

There’s been much work on “what good looks like” to overcome structural blindness and cognitive bias.

Mountains have been written about Decision Science across disciplines and industries. So, here’s the question:  has enough attention been paid to Decision Science in corporate board rooms?

This question becomes more pressing when we realize that board rooms are often a petri dish for bad decisions. Why, because structural blindness is created when public company board members are limited in depth of business knowledge, in scope by focus on compliance and oversight, as part-timers, and more. Then, because board members are assumed to be super decision makers with little cognitive bias (after all, they get the big bucks) the insight that Decision Science brings to management is often not applied in board rooms.

Good News – These Problems Can Be fFxed

Decades, centuries and millennia of successful approaches can be applied to help boards overcome errors. Three steps you can take right after reading this:

  • Reflect on past decisions to find root causes. What information was missed? What information wasn’t considered properly? The “5 Whys” method described by Taiichi Ohno of Toyota in the 1950s can help.
  • Evaluate decisions currently “in flight” to predict how outcomes will fail expectations based on errors of structural blindness and cognitive bias.
  • As brain science lies at the core, realize that the same attribute of a person can be a strength or weakness depending on the situation. To understand how this reality can play out in board members, try the Board Bona Fide evaluation. Then decision processes can be more clearly evaluated for where they cause structural blindness and ferment cognitive bias.

As with any change process, understanding cause is the first step to overcoming that weakness. Here, the energy really gets rolling with lessons from sports, military history, the arts and business case lessons.

Final Thought

Learn from success stories from any endeavor. When you peel back the layers, the secret of success is most always Decision Science. The approach is proven and practical. It has already been done. You and your board colleagues can do it too. It starts by realizing how much trouble our own brains and disorganized data can get us into and then shifting to a smarter path.
                    Meet Brian Barnier 

Brian is the Head of Analytics at Value Bridge Advisors and a strategic partner of Boardwise. He dedicates his time to helping companies and investment firms grow and perform at their best with the use of data science.  With data science, he focus on the tough problems that often derail business initiatives, including machine learning. solutions with superior data context and visualization, exploratory data analysis, and people management to achieve better business metrics.

For operating businesses, he grows valuation by product management foresight, sales transformation, and operations excellence. Setting agile objectives to achieve 6 months of work in six weeks, he helps save 20-40% in initiative costs. He demonstrates how to distinctively use systems and root cause analysis and consistent methods for managing risk from geopolitical to cyber makes it easier to seize strategic objectives.

For investing in larger companies, his methods handily outperform benchmarks through focus on technology, macroeconomics, and business model-based investing. Key levers are quantamentals and repeatable platforms for enduring advantage. Distinctive is a process for overcoming structural blindness, busting myths, and improving return persistence. For growing and investing in smaller ventures, Brian draws on a “been there, done that” track record of leading teams to nine patents to emphasize the design of business model and product management methods to remove barriers to success. His published books about managing risk demonstrates its value as an ultimate competitive differentiator.

His firm owns a suite of knowledgeware which it offers users, along with an outcomes accelerator workshop series, and the www.feddashboard.com for market risk insight.