Multi-Dimensional Learning

By Jack Goihman, Cohort 8, Groundswell Build

Each week, a participant in Groundswell’s Build program shares reflections, learnings, and experiences from their journey of building a social venture. See current and past participant posts in the Student Blog.

Jack Goihman.jpg

The multi-dimensional learning that threw the box away

I have been fascinated by the impact of bias in decision-making and more so about the bias blind spot. But what are biases? The Cambridge dictionary defines biases as: supporting or opposing a particular person or thing in an unfair way, because of allowing personal opinions to influence your judgment: In other words, it is forming an opinion about something based on our past experience and not on that thing’s actual attributes or present situation. These assumptions happen unconsciously in the brain and all of us have them. Carnegie Melon Univeristy found the bias blind spot (when we believe ourself less biased than others) is present in everyone at some level. “Everyone is affected by blind spot bias — only one adult out of 661 said that he/she is more biased than the average person”.

So where do these biases come from? And how do they affect us? Biases come from our past experiences: if a dogs bit you as a child, and every time you see a dog you assume it wants to bite you, over time your brain goes into autopilot to say DOG = BAD. Some biases can also be helpful, for example, in navigating the information overload of the 21st century; I save hours every day by unconsciously choosing not to read or click many things that pop up in front of me.


So what is the impact of biases when we make decisions? The human decision-making process happens with what is understood as two different brains: a fast brain who reacts to stimuli based on our past experience (driven by our biases); and a slow brain which takes the time to break down the information, pays close attention to details, and dissipates some of those initial assumptions from the fast brain.


So the big question is, how do we prevent our biases from building mental walls while harnessing their power to protect us? My answer is:

Fact-Based Decision-Making

Facts dismantle assumptions and leave little room for biases to cause harm. They can provide support to our initial point of view and decrease risks.


At Groundswell I am developing an initiative to free people from their biases with proven project management tools and techniques. These help make more accurate decisions to save time, money, and provide accountability. As I prepare for the next session, I find myself puzzling together knowledge, reflections, values, concepts, drawings, experiences, emotions and relationships. They are all orbiting around my mind while I take steps forward through the Groundswell process. It’s a multi-dimensional learning experience that creates an environment of inclusion, self-discovery, and support systems which enables the best version of myself to create.


As a prey of my own biases, I am terrible at estimating and making predictions. I misjudged the efforts required to building something meaningful and valuable for myself, my community, and the broader society, and way too quickly it was clear that it will require a lot more time, help, courage, discipline, values, grit, and hope, than I had anticipated. Luckily at Groundswell, I found an experienced and concerned group of professionals who are there for me through the ups and downs of the journey, constantly developing this multi-dimension learning experience that stimulates thoughts, emotions, and soul like no other institution or community in Vancouver or elsewhere. Groundswell is where I can safely pour myself into what I do, even if I am not yet too clear what that is.