brains learn more effectively from success than from failure

i watched Kevlin Henney’s talk from NDC 2011 on cognitive biases tonight.  about 15-20 min in he references a study on how the brain learns from success and failure.

we learn better from success because of how we’re wired in the brain.

this should inform us in a lot of contexts – that goes for the rest of the biases mentioned in the talk, too.

some of those contexts:

  • failed projects – learning from, what you change next time
  • strengths-based thinking
  • reviews, retrospectives
  • learning all sorts of new stuff
  • how you teach stuff, trying to get others to learn
  • business startups (perhaps motivation for lean startups)
  • creating prosess based on revealing failure…
  • estimates – expecting them to get better next time
  • budgets (optimism, large numbers)
  • comprehension of complexity in code
  • adding people to a project mid-project
  • testing
  • usability (from programmers’ perspective)
  • multitasking, in work and life
  • meetings
  • planning
  • tolerance for randomness, variation in software development


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