When I married my wife years ago, my mother-in-law told a story about her friend who had a successful marriage. The husband concluded the reason of his successful marriage was that he was going to take the big decisions and his wife was going to take the small ones. After so many years of a happy marriage, the husband realized that there had been no big decisions! The wisdom of my mother-in-law’s story still echoes in my mind after all these years of her passing away — married life is a a collection of small decisions which should be taken by her daughter. I agree! But the big picture and wisdom I had from this story is that successful life is a collection of good small decisions. This leads to the question: how can we take good small decisions and predict how the decision will translate into real sound actions? Meaning, if you are a better forecaster with sound judgment, most likely your small decisions will be good or at least theoretically the decisions should be good!
A creative idea which I heard recently was the creation of the Good Judgment Project. People who are good in judging and predicting things are not the experts! It is the collective wisdom of diverse people who are not experts in the topic. This is what the Good Judgment Project is built on. Philip E. Teltock wrote a book about this subject naming it Superforecasting and the Art of Prediction. Mr. Teltock assembled a group of diverse people — talented volunteers who had the ability to be 30% better in their predictions than intelligence officers who have access to classified information. Teltock’s group of volunteers were subjected to very specific and detailed questions about several scattered topics. Mr. Teltock made the prediction to be measurable and easily quantifiable, allowing him to compare the volunteer group’s decisions with the experts who are armed with classified information. The volunteer group won the prediction game by taking good decisions by 30% compared with the experts, indicating that we have the ability to tap into the group knowledgeable to improve the outcome of the future forecasting in many topics when the military or the government needs some help.
On the other hand, after studying sport forecasting, Mr. Teltock, discovered that sport forecasters are the worst forecasters ever. Research shows that the less benefit or harm of predicting an event, the more possibility for you to predict it wrong. Interestingly, If you don’t have skin in the game, it might be difficult to predict the right outcome in sports.
One of my struggles in life is measuring the personal impact of what would happen if you have a wrong small decision which has effects on many people. The consequences of the wrong small decisions usually generate uncertainty with subtle consequences, making it almost impossible to know whether it is related to that decision. So, what do you do in this case? The best action which you might or should take is to stay still and deal with it in a very slow and subtle matter. Adapting this strategy will allow you not to turn something bad to worse, and it decreases the possibility of having a higher impact by not developing high reactive actions. In simple terms, don’t over-react when you get something wrong and you will be fine!
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