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Gladwell Steps in the Arena

In this way worthy read from Page 2 of espn.com, Malcolm Gladwell steps in the arena of professional sports and applies his BLINK ideology. My key takeaways were:

Gladwell on Play Calling During Super Bowl XXXIX…

“ … I’ve always been so surprised that more NFL teams don’t use the no-huddle. It’s not just that it forces your opponent to keep a specific defense on the field. It’s that it shifts the game cognitively: it forces coaches and defensive captains to think and react entirely in the instinctive “blink” mode … Andy Reid has to know that Belichick has an edge when he can calmly and deliberately plot his next move. But does he still have an advantage when he and his players have to make decisions on the spur of the moment? I’d tell Andy Reid to go no-huddle at random, unpredictable points during the game — to throw Belichick out of his comfort zone.”

Gladwell on the ‘Warren Harding error’ and the NBA…

“The Warren Harding Error is in honor of our best-looking president ever — a man so handsome and distinguished and with such a barrel chest and broad shoulders and commanding voice that people would just look at him and be convinced that that he would make a wonderful leader. Unfortunately, Harding turned out to be our stupidest and most incompetent president ever. (And there is some stiff competition for that title). The Warren Harding Error is what happens when our first impressions are so powerful that they cloud our better judgment.”

“I always think about this when I hear basketball people talking about how high a player can jump. People fall in love with leaping ability, because when you see someone soar so far above the rim its an almost emotional experience. It’s like looking at Warren Harding. But, of course, what does leaping ability really tell you about a player? Not much. Most rebounds are taken below the rim, and the key to getting your shot off is really how quick your release is and how you shoot, not how high you jump.”

“Who suffers the most from the Warren Harding Error? Well, I’m an embittered New Yorker so I’d say Isiah Thomas. He’s brought together a group of marvelous athletes — Crawford, Thomas, Marbury — all of whom look the part of basketball players, without being able to actually play the game with any great skill or discipline.”

Gladwell on How Too Much Data can Undermine Decision-Making During the Super Bowl…

“I think that the worst thing about the Super Bowl is the two-week layoff. I think teams get over-coached in the second week. In Blink, I talk about how we can turn ER doctors from terrible decision-makers when it comes to diagnosing chest pain into great decision makers simply by limiting the amount of information they are given about a patient. Load them down with every conceivable piece of data, and they have real difficulty distinguishing patients with heartburn from patients who are experiencing a real heart attack. Limit them to three or four crucial pieces of data, though, and they do a great job. How can that not be true of football players as well? It’s quite possible right now that Tom Brady or Donovan McNabb simply know too much about each other.”

[Takeaways excerpted verbatim from this espn.com article.]
Thanks to the Fast Company blog for the find.

One Comment

  • Super Bowl XXXIX: Asymmetric fast transientsBrand Autopsy’s post Gladwell Steps in the Arena links to ESPNs interview with Malcolm Gladwell.Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point” and more recently “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” discusses how the concepts of Blink apply to…