What Basketball and Statistics Taught Me About Business

Graphic Design
March 7, 2018

Once again, March Madness has engulfed us. I enjoy the games, but there's only one team to which I pay close attention, that of my alma mater, the Wichita State Shockers. I've been watching the Shockers closely for many years. I believe that investment of time, along with other knowledge I've absorbed, has taught me some things about making life and business decisions.

What I have seen from basketball game to game is both defense and offense looking very good and very bad... often within stretches of less than ten minutes. It's easy to let your emotions get the best of you in this kind of up and down experience. When we let our emotions take control, we have given up on our brain and logic. Regarding a college basketball game, we see 'our team' miss five shots in a row or not score for five minutes, and we feel like the game is over. On the other end of the emotional spectrum, we see 'our team' make three threes in a row and think 'our team' is the NCAA national champion.

The fundamental concept is that we tend to make decisions based on alarmingly small sets of data. "It’s called the bias from insensitivity to sample size, or, if you prefer, the law of small numbers," says the Mental Model: Bias from Insensitivity to Sample Size blog.

If I rolled a die once and it came up six and I then told you, "All rolled dice result in six," you’d surely understand this is a mistaken assumption. A die has six sides, so there should be six possible outcomes. My brain would, of course, agree with you, but my emotions may not be interested in such silly logic.

So as you watch 'your team' play or you make day-to-day decisions about your children, what piece of business equipment to buy, or who to hire or fire, ask yourself if you honestly have a large enough sample size to make an intelligent decision. If 'your team' just missed seven shots in a row, but you know they are good, don't be surprised if they make three threes in a row just ten minutes later.

Your take away, regarding Ridpath Creative, is that we are your boutique design shop equipped to tackle your website, digital & print media, and photography & video needs. We are your team through missed shots and successful goals. We will stay steady with you to ultimately win the game. 

Return to the knowledge resources list.