Decision-Making: The Principle of “Thoughtful Opinions Held Loosely”

I’ve been a fan of the Farnam Street blog by Shane Parrish for the past 4-5 years.  One of his Principles is “Thoughtful Opinions Held Loosely”. This is based on what Paul Saffo introduced as “Strong opinions, weakly held” concept. Bub Sutton (who wrote Good Boss, Bad Boss) wrote about this in Psychology Today – he wrote that he was curious about the differences between “smart people vs wise people” and found that wise people are those who have the courage to act on their knowledge but also have the humility to doubt what they know. He said that this is how people deal with uncertainty but then still move forward.

Bob writes that having weak opinions is a problem because you are not inspired to develop good arguments for them and you don’t test these opinions.  Bob also said that having strong opinions is also a problem as it undermines the ability to be open to evidence that contrasts with your opinion. Psychologists call this the “confirmation bias” problem.

However, I like the idea of  “Thoughtful Opinions Held Loosely” instead of “Strong opinions, weakly held” and prefer Shane Parrish’s wording because every business manager should be thoughtful in how they arrive to an opinion in their business. And it is better that this opinion is thoughtful rather that just plainly strong.  You’re thus thoughtful but you are open-minded and can consider feedback and data from others on your team.  This is a very smart core principle to adhere to as a business leader.

What else and what are some other thoughts on having thoughtful opinions but being open-minded to others’ input?