The Lizard Loop – How to Back up Rigour With Intuition by Roisi Proven "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs 5 April 2019 True Cognitive Bias, Customer Research, lizard loop, mtpengage manchester, Product Management, Product Management Skills, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 364 Product Management 1.456

The Lizard Loop – How to Back up Rigour With Intuition by Roisi Proven


In this #mtpengage Manchester talk, Roisi Proven of Gower Street Analytics talks about the lizard loop, which she describes as “backing rigour with intuition, after you’ve already backed up your intuition with rigour”.

Roisi Proven speaks at MTP Engage Manchester

System 1 and System 2 thinking originate from the popular book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. System 1 thinking, also known as your lizard brain, and is responsible for fast, automatic, frequent, unconscious decisions. What’s 1+1? Instinctively, you know it’s 2 and that’s your lizard brain. System 2 is the slow, analytic part of your brain. Our brains have a large bias towards System 1 thinking, as it takes considerably less energy.

Taking the concepts of System 1 and System 2 thinking and applying them to our products leads to a number of questions we need to ask ourselves. Firstly, what are our internal anchors and biases? If we’re making decisions on using System 1 – which is used to make most decisions – then these biases will be inherent in our products. To overcome this, we need to keep asking ourselves hard questions:

  • Do I think unfairly about a group of people?
  • Am I blindly positive about the product I’m building?
  • When our users get something wrong, do I sometimes think they must be “stupid”?

We also need to check our questioning of our customers during research, to ensure we don’t pass on these biases through our lines of questioning.

This is where System 2 thinking comes in. If we ask ourselves hard questions, we’re asking our System 2 to check our System 1 thinking. This is hard, and feels uncomfortable, but it’s how we start to use intuition (System 1) and rigour (System 2) to achieve the best results.

Roisi encourages us to value pessimism as a virtue. To be pessimistic is to engage System 2 and add rigour to our thinking, and there are two potential tests to do this:

  • Dr Pepper test – what’s the worst that could happen?!
  • Black Mirror test – what is this, but with baddies…

To help us make the best decisions we can make, we need to make sure we continue to check our thinking using these tests, seeing them as the canaries in the coal mine.