Decision Making & Mental Models Part 2

This week I spent 45 minutes on the phone with a scouting director of a major league organization. We were visiting about some of the people in their front office. He raved about all of them and was sharing about their skillset and gifts.

I asked what made one person in particular so good. The scouting director said this guy has helped their whole organization make better decisions because they now have a process and more clarity for making decisions.

Mental models help us make sense of the world, help us make better decisions and avoid biases. I have not found a mental model’s book for coaches, so I will connect mental models and coaching!

Second-Order Thinking
This is thinking about not just the immediate consequence of a decision but thinking about the consequence of the immediate consequence. Or to put another way, if I make a decision that knocks down a domino, other dominos are sure to fall as well. What are those other dominos?
Example: When you decide to redshirt a student-athlete, there is not only the consequence of what it does to your current roster but will have consequences for rosters sizes for the next several years.

Bike shedding
Spending time on trivial matters when more important matters get neglected. We spend too much time on unimportant random things and not the things that move our program forward. (See The Pareto Principle)

Maslow’s Hammer
This model states that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. This happens when a leader has a narrow perspective and lacks multiple tools to handle situations or help develop others. They think that every problem or occasion is a great time for that one tool. In short, your leadership will be greatly limited. Expand your tool belt so you don’t think every problem is a nail.

Hindsight Bias
Once we know the outcome, it’s nearly impossible to turn back the clock mentally. This is why our instinct after the fact is to say “I knew it” when in fact you didn’t know it. It is actually possible to make a good decision and it not work out in your favor. If we constantly have hindsight bias we will never learn to be good thinkers and decision-makers. We will constantly look at a decision after the fact and that will create inconsistent decision making.

Survivorship Bias
History is written by the victors. The ones who succeeded. The ones who “made it”. We over-attribute success to things done by the successful. And we fail to see all of the accompanying “losers” or
“those who failed” who acted in the same way but were not lucky enough to succeed. For example, everyone has a friend who has a Granpa who smoked three packs a day and lived until he was 95. Grandpa is an outlier. If we fall prey to survivorship bias we think this is normal. What we choose not to see are the stats of people who die much younger from lung cancer. In regards to coaching, I visited with an elite coach several weeks back. He shared that he doesn’t write up a practice schedule. This guy is an outlier. If anyone else tried that, they would be a zoo and their assistants would hate it. It works for this guy… because he is the outlier.

Great leaders and coaches are great, clear thinkers. They see things from a higher vantage point than others. They can see the big picture and the details. Mental models help us do these things.

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Travis Wyckoff

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