The AREA Method

A Good Process + Good Information = Great Decisions

Below is a brief outline of the method and a list of some common biases, or mental shortcuts, that tend to impede good decision-making and how the AREA Method tackles them to improve the quality of your research and your thinking.

The AREA Method research process gets its name from the perspectives that it addresses: Absolute, Relative, Exploration & Exploitation and Analysis.

A

A, or Absolute, refers to the perspective of the research target. It is primary, uninfluenced information from the source itself.

R

R, or Relative, refers to the perspective of outsiders around the research target. It is secondary information or information that has been filtered through sources connected to the target.

E

E, or Exploration and Exploitation, are really about the human mind. Exploration is about listening to what other people think and believe. Exploitation is about listening to yourself and examining your own assumptions and judgment.

A

The second A, or Analysis, synthesizes all of these perspectives, processing and interpreting the information you’ve collected. Each of these steps will be explained in detail in the chapters that follow.

The confirmation bias refers to a form of selective thinking where we seek out and overvalue information that confirms our existing beliefs, while neglecting or undervaluing information that is contradictory to our existing beliefs.

The AREA Method guides you to gather information one perspective at a time to help you control your rush to judgement. The Exploitation chapter offers even more specific exercises to tackle this bias.

This is a bias in which someone’s subjective confidence in their judgments is reliably greater than their objective accuracy. For example, we are only correct about 80% of the time when we are “99% sure.”

By gathering information one perspective at a time and by beginning with information from the source itself, you ground yourself in perspectives other than your own. This keeps your data and your focus more objective.

Without meaning to, we tend to project our thoughts and beliefs onto others and assume that others are wired the same way we are. This can lead to thinking that other people will reach the same conclusions we have reached. In short, this bias creates a false consensus when in fact one doesn’t exist.

By following the AREA Method you will be using a source-based methodology that is structured to heighten your awareness of your own thinking limitations while focusing you on other people’s viewpoints.

We all run in herds, professionally and personally. We tend to follow what’s trending and take note of what’s popular.

The AREA Method encourages you to do your own work, broken down into discrete and manageable research steps. Further, the AREA Method is structured so that you are always aware of the source(s) of your information. By being aware of your source, you put some distance between yourself and the herd.

Read how the AREA Method helped John, Micah and Cheryl make high-stakes decisions…