The illusion of control exists to remind us all we're human.
We all like to be in control. And, others expect leaders, managers, or owners to have influence over business success. This is normal.
And it's good. Especially if the manager or business owner is good at managing systems and processes.
But even the best make mistakes, judge issues incorrectly, or over-estimate their abilities to control things.
Sometimes, however, the mistakes are made because the individual is so good and because others rely on them. Prior success builds confidence. Sometimes, over-confidence. Sometimes, they fall victim to the illusion of control.
The illusion of control rears its head when we overestimate our abilities to influence an outcome. You can know it has happened when you look back and realize that, despite thinking you had the ability to affect the situation, you really were not in a position to influence the result.
Practically, this can cause leaders to underestimate effort, cost, and resource requirements. It can also lead to overestimation of profits, market share, or other outcome indicators.
So...we have a tendency to overestimate our abilities. After all, most entrepreneurs and successful business people reached their position through confidence and risk taking. Basically, research validates an obvious observation. Right?
But this site is intended to be a practical resource; it's not a psychology journal or encyclopedia.
How can understanding this reality help you create better solutions to your most important business problems?
By prompting you to use the approaches and tools available to overcome potential threats to great problem solving.
Many of the problem-solving tools available work so well because they can minimize or eliminate human errors in judgement. They allow knowledgable people to focus on what's left...the facts. Sometimes, these errors are explained by the over-estimation of our understanding of the problem or opportunity. Sometimes, the cause of the poor outcome can be traced to other common thinking biases like recency bias, confirmation bias, and information bias.
Root cause analysis, process measurement, and business process management tools are all very effective in helping to overcome our weaknesses and exposing our blind spots. Cultures that promote identification of problems, collaborative problem solving, and open communication are also very effective.
We are all human and can make mistakes. In our complex world, it is difficult to know everything and judge all situations accurately (just scan the business headlines over the past few years for proof).
You would never dig a hole without a shovel. Why not use the problem-solving and decision-making tools and the leverage they provide to get better results...or at least avoid the pitfalls of the illusion of control.