WYSIATI- All about perceptions

“What You See Is All There Is” abbreviated by Daniel Kahneman as “WYSIATI” in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”.

Biases of various kinds are known to impact our ability to be rational in decision-making. I have an experience to share where perceptions turned out to be more real than facts themselves. The key learning is that perceptions reflect what we believe in and ‘belief’ is what we are programmed to value more.

My colleague and I were part of a sales meeting. He was a salesperson and I represented as a CFO. His version of feedback about the meeting with customer, “The meeting was good and we did an excellent job explaining and outlining our execution plan once we get the project.”

“Are we getting the project?” CEO was focused on specifics only. He was used to the rhetoric of salesmen for decades now. “We are most likely to get it.” My colleague reconfirmed when CEO said, “You seem to be confident.”

CEO had cross verified the claim of my colleague talking to the customer directly. He blamed my colleague of misrepresenting the facts. The customer believed that the presentation lacked creativity and out-of-box thinking on marketing plan. I was also called to share my version. I uttered, “the customer seems to build a strong negotiation platform and hence probed us to share more insights on marketing plan while talking of budget constraints.”

My CEO asked, “Did customer mention the budget?”. I said, “He did not.”

Quoting Koen Smets, “The pernicious nature of WYSIATI is precisely that we don’t reason. This old riddle illustrates how easily we jump to conclusions: a father and his son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital. Just as he is about to go under the knife, the surgeon exclaims, “I can’t operate — that boy is my son!” How can this be?