DECISION MATTERS workshop at the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung

October 13, 2019

This year, our workshop at the AvH Stiftung in Berlin was devoted to smart decision making for prospective leaders.

The Fellows of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung joined us   on Monday October 14 to discuss how our own mind can play tricks on us. Dr. Denis Kotov delivered a keynote as introduction to  the #OrangensquareCriticalQuestion: How can we improve the quality of our decision-making process?

Many of us are aware that while human heuristics help us come up with optimal (in a given context) decision, the understanding of their accuracy and the cases where cognitive pitfalls manifest is limited. Yet the know-hows of the behavioural economics — such bas cognitive profiling, highlighting the conditions under which cognitive errors are likely to occur and the ways to mitigate the risk of illed decisions — make it easier than ever before to handle cognitive errors from their identification to comprehensive brainstorming sessions.

The challenge for behavioural coaches is to understand where cognitive errors are likely to distort the quality itellectual outcome while preserving  the team's drive, brainstorming spirit and the ability to come up with new solutions.

The optimal way is to teach group members to recognize cognitive errors (both -  their own and those of other group members) and use techniques to keep group discussions on a right (rational) track.

We are grateful to our guests for their passion, productive participation and smart ideas.

Nudgingkonferenz in Berlin

March 16, 2019

Elena Aminova had an inspiring weekend at the Nudgingkonferez in Berlin.


Main take-aways:

1. Designing decision-making frameworks are getting increasingly attractive for social projects (healthy catering, health at the jobplace, healthy sleeping rituals, urban recreational areas for children and adults)

2. Nudging tools can be effectively merged with design thinking, gamification and other creative techniques of brainstorming.

3. Nudging is not the only alternative. Consider Boosting as a promising alternative for democratic societies. Many thank to the conference organizers, especially to Frank Erwin and Nina Martin for a productive workshop.

Orange ´n´ square partners up with MOSECON

January 06, 2019

We are pleased to announce a new partnership between Orange 'n' square and MOSECON.

The Modern Security Consulting Group MOSECON GmbH is a consulting company specializing in counterterrorism, security and international relations and advises government and state leaders, governments, NGOs, research institutes and private companies worldwide. Employees are characterized by versatility and adaptability, and assist in the creation of policies, agendas, strategic and tactical decision-making, as well as in the development of security programs and academic projects.

The aim of this partnership is to offer a new series of workshops and seminars devoted to effective handling in a crisis situation.

Denis Kotov at the Energy Forum in Leipzig

December 08, 2019

On December 6, 2018, Denis Kotov made a workshop at the "Controlling in der Energiewirtschaft" event in Leipzig. This time, the meeting of the working group was dedicated to best practices in project management and the role of the controller as a business partner. What are the requirements for a smooth planning, development and implementation of projects? In his workshop, Denis Kotov demonstrated how cognitive biases can distort the decision-making process and lead to project failure. He showed that even experienced controllers tend to make biased decisions without realizing it. Bias can occur on every project phase. The overestimation bias affects both the project definition phase and the implementation phase. Due to the escalation of commitment,  even unprofitable projects get pumped up with new investments. Self-esteem distortion reduces the learning effects of previous projects and prevents true causes of deviations from being detected.

In the second part, Mr. Kotov used a case study to show how distortions in business decisions can be identified. This requires a detailed analysis of (a) the expectations at the time of project planning with regard to the course of the project and the associated risks, and (b) interpretation of factors that had led to deviations. This extended variance analysis provides applicable indicators to cognitive biases that distort our expectations and can lead to deviations. Debiasing methods help to substantially improve business decisions and project management processes.

DECISION MATTERS at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

October 21, 2018

In October, we made a workshop at the final conference of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for Young Leaders in Berlin. Using insights from our decision-making- and nudging workshops, we wanted to inspire international fellows with the value of behavioral economics.

Together with Dr. Denis Kotov of GAZPROM Germania GmbH, we hosted a half-day workshop DECISION MATTERS. In 2017, we had already convinced many awesome professionals with the idea of ​​"slow thinking". The concept of this year's event has been extended to include nudges and nudging.

Elena Aminova and Denis Kotov used the methods of behavioral economics and techniques of creative brainstorming to show the participants their own mind patterns. The second part of the event was dedicated to the concept of nudging and illustrated how to steer the decisions of others without direct restrictions.

During an interactive game our gests had to design a nudge based on the case study. The idea of ​​nudging was surprisingly well accepted by the audience: many fellows could  imagine including nudges in their future projects. This made the exchange of experiences for both sides very positive.

If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, drop us a line to

Why are financial controllers good as business partners?

September 19, 2017

Over the past decade, the role of financial controllers has been increasingly shifting to business partnering. In our workshop in Warsaw at the Financial Controlling Summit 2017, we reflected on the concept of business partnering, discussed some practical implications for financial specialists and unfolded the ways and mechanisms that enable controllers to deliver rational judgements to the management.


We started by asking what makes controllers suitable as business partners? The responds have proven that traditional number-related functions are shifting to support managerial decision-making on a wide range of issues, including risk management, strategy and business development, future investments etc. It turns out that every day controllers are forced to make decisions between options that differ in a specific way: do we handle as usual or advise the management about new options? Intuitively most of us understand that business as usual may not always be the optimal choice but tend to exploit well-known paths instead of using financial insights to explore fresh alternatives.


So, what makes financial controllers suitable as business partners?

First, they are independent from many strategic business decisions, even though they support these decisions with analytics, insights, and data.

Second, they know the company from inside - its  past, present and its expected performance. Finally, while making judgement they apply professional scepticism and tend to question the proposed alternatives, estimations or assumptions. That is why their expertise can enable qualified decision-making on the top level.


Still, although the numbers are correct sometimes decisions fail. Why does it happen? Some failures that accompany finance-sensitive areas have a psychological origin. It is heuristics and behavioral biases that may threaten the quality of management decisions, budgeting and estimations.


In an interactive exercise session our guests had to make decisions under uncertainty, time pressure and with lacking information. We showed how misleading our perception and stereotypes can be, how strongly they can affect our choice, how far from reality we land if we rely on heuristics.

We resumed by discussing the general countermeasures, specific tools and techniques that financial controllers can implement to mitigate the negative effect of biases.

The Financial Controlling Summit 2017 is an event offering financial experts a good platform for experience exchange. We appreciate Rzeczpospolita for their invitation to support the conference.

Our Workshop in Prague

June 19, 2017

We’ve always done it like that!”- is what many of us say, when we are asked about the reasons for our decisions. Sometimes this rule works, but mostly it does not. To show why, we created this workshop.  On Tuesday June 20, we captivated an international group of financial experts with the worthiness of thinking slowly. Our workshop was devoted to behavioral effects in finance took place in Prague at the  5th Annual Financial Controlling Toolbox event. We gathered a group of curious management accountants, financial controllers and CFOs from well-renowned companies operating in Central - and Eastern Europe.

The format of our workshop was composed of three parts, each one 30-40 minutes long:

In the first part, we shed some light on a highly vibrating but still subtle topic: how to make rational judgements, when your own brain plays tricks on you. We were speaking about the failures that accompany strategy- and finance-sensitive areas of the decision making. The purpose was to show how behavioral biases may threaten the quality of management decisions, budgeting and estimations.

The second part was the most intensive and exhausting for our participants – we were playing and asking tricky questions. We tried to create the atmosphere where heuristics and biases flourish and become evident. In the three exercise sessions our guests had to make decisions under uncertainty, time pressure and with lacking information. 

We started by demonstrating how misleading our perception and stereotypes can be, how strongly they can affect our choice, how far from reality we land if we rely on representativeness and availability heuristics. 

After that, we referred to handling with probabilities.   How to make choice if you lack important information? What are anchors and framing and how can these psychological phenomena drive us to “bad decisions”? What are the ways to manipulate the decision making under uncertainly?

Finally, we were working in teams. In a three-round game our participants had to crack a case study and identify possible reasons for the deviation in the financial performance of a company. The four teams came up with astonishingly different results! This exercise seemed to surprise our guests as well, because it clearly showed, how the team dynamics can affect the expertise of financial specialists making them deliver different conclusions based on the same input information.

In the third part we were discussing the general counter measures and specific tools that financial controllers can implement to deliver better decisions and judgments.

The Financial controlling Toolbox is a regular event offering financial experts for sharing their knowledge and experience. We appreciate the European Business Conference Group for their invitation to support the conference.


March 22, 2017

On March 23, we introduced our new workshop DECISION MATTERS. Our goal was to raise awareness of our participants for the mental patterns that affect our decisions. We also showed general counter measures that reduce the negative effects of bias.

Our guests came from different industries. It was exciting to discuss mental patterns in a well-informed and competent group. We hope our brainstorming exercises made the workshop participants think slowly about sensitive decisions.


Impact of biases on our perception of the future(s)

While making plans for the future we believe to be able to make secure assessment of what will likely happen. Quite often though, we are confronted with unexpected developments and  large deviations from our plans. Why does it happen? When making forecasts and assessing future events, we are often unconsciously steered by embedded behavioral patterns or biases that influence our decisions. Often, biases come into play when a decision has to be made under uncertainty or lack of information. For example, which stocks should one select to maximize returns? Here we show how biases can be identified and how applied futures research can help to minimize their impact.

Breaking Ice in Multiculturalism: Between Utopia and Reality

The workshop that we made at the Neue Generation e.V. event in Kazan was aimed to shed some light on a pending question: is it possible to effectively build a society on the principles of multiculturalism and, if yes, – what are the ways to a multicultural society? Numerous articles in media prove that the practical side of multiculturalism, though underpinned by successful examples, to which the Republic of Tatarstan is proud to contribute, remains ambivalent due to historical reasons, stereotypes, intolerance, ignorance, lack of motivation to accept a different culture, dictate of a dominant culture on a federal level, economic and political disparity, increasing migration coupled with ever declining birth rates and relatively short life span.

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Orange 'n' square UG (haftungsbeschränkt)

Frank-L.-Howley-Weg 112 | 14167 Berlin

m.: +49(0)176 680 60 581


Amtsgericht Berlin-Charlottenburg HRB 164870 B


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