March 24, 2018 Resulting

Resulting is when we tie our results to our actions regardless of why we achieved the outcome.  Whether is was skill of luck we change our process or reinforce our process because of the results.  Annie Duke explains why this is so dangerous.

As you become a better decision-maker, it’s important to remember that just because something good happened (a good outcome, let’s say) it doesn’t necessarily mean that you made a good decision. You can play the odds and make the “logical” decision, and the fates can still throw a storm your way. This is also true of the opposite: you can choose to drive home drunk and survive, but does that mean you made a good decision? Of course not.

When you do this, when you falsely believe you made a good or bad decision based on the outcome, Duke (and poker players) call this “resulting,” and it should be avoided like the plague. Rather than simply observing the outcome and saying to yourself, “I made the right/wrong choice,” instead, be a scientist. Judge yourself based on the efficacy of your decision making. Because remember: the point isn’t to win just this time, it’s to win in the long run. Next time. And next time. And every next time thereafter. This requires a plan, not luck.

The Seattle Seahawks, an American Football team, lost in the decisive moments of the Super Bowl after their coach controversially called a passing play, which resulted in an interception. On the surface, fans screaming, “You should have just run the ball in,” seemed to be right. Why risk an interception? Well, when you go one step deeper you realize that the odds of a pass play resulting in an interception, and a run resulting in a fumble, were almost exactly the same. The only difference was that if the pass play didn’t work, because the clock would stop, they would get an additional chance to score. So—given that the odds of a turnover were the same—but the odds of a touchdown were much higher given two chances instead of one, did the coach make the wrong decision?

If you were resulting—if you were falsely judging the decision based on the outcome—then you would say that he made the wrong decision. But now you know how to avoid this way of thinking. In fact, even though it cost them the game, the coach’s decision was the right decision.

  • Intuitively, what is the worst decision you ever made? This is a tough one, but don’t overthink it and answer from your gut.
  • Ignoring outcome, why did you make that decision?
  • Again, ignoring outcome, was it really a good or bad decision? Why or why not?

REMINDER: The outcome doesn’t matter—only your reasoning for making that decision!

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