Process Over Outcomes

Have you ever made a decision that didn’t work out as you had planned or hoped?  Did that make it a bad decision?  Maybe, but maybe not.  I believe in process over outcomes when probabilities and chance are involved.

Professional Sports is an area where decision-making is always on display.  Remember Super Bowl XLIX?  Pete Carroll called a pass play with the Seahawks on the 1-yard line with limited time left on the clock.  Russell Wilson threw an interception and the Patriots won?  This is widely believed to be a horrible call.

But was it?  Annie Duke, in her book Thinking In Bets ( which I highly recommend reading), argues this was actually a good decision with a bad outcome.  The odds of Wilson throwing an interception were very low.  Statistically, the play would result in a touchdown or incomplete pass much more often than an interception.  With the limited time on the clock, this would allow the Seahawks to run another play if they didn’t score.

We live in a world we don’t control.  Instead, it is governed by probabilities and chance, not certainty.

What we can control is our process.  Did we:
– Gather a reasonable amount of relevant data?
– Analyze the data?  Did we assess the probability of success?
– Take action that would increase the probability?

Would other people think this was reasonable?  If so, then we probably made a good decision and the outcome was just what happened.

Life is uncertain.  What you can control is your process, but not your outcomes.