Although intuitive judgment cannot develop in irregular or unpredictable environments, individuals will sometimes make judgments and decisions that are successful by chance. These lucky individuals might be susceptible to an illusion of skill and to overconfidence. They rely on heuristics that are false.
People sometimes have subjectively compelling intuitions even when they lack true skill, because the environment is stable or because they have not mastered it. Lewis described the weaknesses in the ability of baseball scouts and managers to judge the capabilities, contributions, and potential of players. Despite opportunities to acquire judgment skills, scouts and managers were often insensitive to important variables and overly influenced by such factors as the player’s appearance—a clear case of prediction by representation.
Subjective intuition can also result from biases: biases based on non-representative experience, incomplete memory, attribute substitution, reliance on representativeness, etc. “Anchoring” is one specific case in which a memory bias can cause intuitions to go astray. For instance, look at the difference in answers to the following two questions: “Is the average price of German cars more or less than $50,000?” versus “Is the average cost of German cars is more or less than $30,000?”
The so-called Pre-Mortem Method can reduce overconfidence and improve decisions. Teams using this method start by describing their plan. Next, they imagine that their plan has failed and the project has been a disaster. Their task is to write down all the reasons why the project failed. Each team member goes around the table and will tell their reasons, starting with the leader. The rationale for the method is that people can generate more criticisms when they are told that an outcome is certain. It also offers a solution to one of the major problems of decision-making within organizations: the gradual suppression of dissenting opinions, doubts, and objections, as are typically observed when an organization commits itself to a major plan.