On heuristics and frameworks

On heuristics and frameworks

When I finished my business undergraduate degree and went to MBA, the key thinking strategy to make sense of case studies and complex events was to think in terms of heuristics* and frameworks. In the age of voluminous information, heuristics and frameworks help us reasonably assume certain conditions and focus on certain areas. They are useful in the sense that we avoid being paralyzed by seemingly irrelevant details and focus on things that supposedly matter more.

As I finished my PhD, did administrative work, and taught the courses I once took, I began to realize: one of keys to lifelong learning is knowing when to rely on heuristics and when to abandon them. A framework mechanically applied to any context is a recipe for monotonous thinking (which, if we think about it, is antithetical to why we create heuristics, frameworks, and even theories in the first place).

It’s easy to apply mental shortcuts. The thrill of applying formulas and the feeling a certain sense of efficiency can unlock a dark side of the flow experience where we feel that we’re inching towards our goal, but in reality, we’re hastening towards traps that we may not get out of.

It is difficult to understand the assumptions and limitations of frameworks. It is dangerous when we leave these assumptions and limitations unchecked.

*Bing AI defines “heuristics” with the following sources: “Heuristics are simple strategies that humans, animals, organizations, and even machines use to quickly form judgments, make decisions, and find solutions to complex problems¹. It is the process by which humans use mental short cuts to arrive at decisions¹. Often this involves focusing on the most relevant aspects of a problem or situation to formulate a solution¹. People use heuristics as a type of cognitive laziness to reduce the mental effort required to make choices and decisions². People use heuristics because they can be fast and correct in certain contexts². Some theories argue that heuristics are actually more accurate than they are biased².”

Source: Conversation with Bing, 4/23/2023
(1) Heuristic – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heuristic.
(2) Heuristics: Definition, Examples, and How They Work – Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-heuristic-2795235.
(3) Heuristic Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heuristic.

Luke 24:13-35. But their eyes were held, that they should not know him.


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