That winning feeling
There’s the story of a football club that wanted to learn more about their supporters’ matchday experience. After each game, they asked a selection of match-going fans what they thought of the atmosphere during the game, the view from their seat, their ease of buying food and drink, and so on. They asked the fans to score each area out of ten.
The club also asked their supporters how they would rate their journey to the match – was it easy to get to and into the stadium? Across all matches this question produced an average response of 6.3 out of 10; neither good nor bad. After defeats, however, the average rating was 4.8, and after wins an impressive 7.2. Fans’ memories of their journey to the stadium was – seemingly irrationally – coloured by their experience of the match itself.
It’s feasible that angry fans after defeats consciously scored every area lowly in order to vent their frustration at the club. Nevertheless, there are parallels with how we react to victories and defeats within our own roles. For example, we often get excited about a new signing, but then six months later find a reason (‘didn’t settle in’, ‘didn’t suit our style of play’) to explain why it didn’t work out.
These reasons may be true, but they are mostly empty statements unless a) they can be anticipated before events unfold and b) actioned upon. In other words, we need to be making predictions, and tracking whether they come true.
So in the case of a new signing – who we know probably has close to a 50% chance of success – we should identify the areas that could go wrong, make a note, and see what we can do about them. Misremembering the past might be fine for matchday fans, but for football clubs it can mean a lack of planning for major decisions.