We often need to explain to people what a heuristic is.  Usually we tell them that it's similar to a "rule of thumb" and then try to give examples. I came across this great example on Bob Sutton's blog ... "Today, after lunch, an executive told me a story about how a secretary where he worked walked-up to the boss and asked "when are the layoffs?"  The boss looked shocked and wondered what in the world prompted the question.  She answered  that [...]