When I first read How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices by Annie Duke, one of my biggest aha moments was from what she calls Resulting and is more formally known as Outcome Bias.

Resulting is a cognitive bias where we believe that a decision was good if we got a good outcome, not based on the actual quality of the decision making process.

For example, if there is a 5% chance of rain and I choose not to pack any raingear, that’s a rational decision. Yet, if it rains and I get soaked, I have a tendency to think that I’d made a poor decision. That’s Resulting at work. The decision itself was a good one, but I don’t like the result so I blame the decision.

Where this trips us up is when we’re trying to improve our decision making by learning from the past. If we mislabel decisions as good or bad based on the outcomes, then we have little chance of improving our decision making ability. We need to consider instead whether the decision itself was a good one, regardless of the outcomes.