Think Different

For an industry that prides itself on divergent thinking, we too often follow our preconceived notions of what is “true”. We’re not the only ones. Gladwell talks about this for a whole book in David and Goliath. I haven’t finished it yet, but his hypothesis is that preconceptions aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on. That the optimal class size isn’t as small as can be but should be mid-sized (he proposed 25). That dyslexia is not, actually, an undesirable trait – that for the right person it can be galvanising.

Where else is this happening? Where else can we see that maybe, just maybe, what we know to be true is not, actually, true. Well, American Football has been doing it for years: always punt on fourth down. Always kick deep from the kick off. But why do we do these things if they aren’t beneficial for us?

Why indeed? This great online six minute short from Grantland (one of my favourite places on the internet at the moment) shows the high school coach who challenged these preconceptions, who ran the data and worked the odds to come up with a truly divergent strategy that is paying off for him.

The caveat emptor here is that as the quality of the players on both teams improves and get closer to the pros, the numbers and the odds may not support this strategy. Even the preconceptions around the challenging of preconceptions need to be challenged.

Have a hypothesis. Test it. Be prepared to throw it away if it doesn’t make sense. Keep on testing it until it doesn’t work. Throw it away when it makes sense to do so. Repeat.

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