How to Win

Matthias Hangst

Try this thought exercise. This doesn't involve putting cats in boxes with poison. A buddy and a little something to drink (very old orange juice, perhaps) can even speed it along.

Answer this question: How do you win?

Simple question, huh? Not so fast. Try to answer that question without referring to anything else. Just describe how to win. You can describe how to put pants on. You can describe how to dress a monkey. Then it shouldn't be hard to describe how to win.

So you ask this question to your buddy, with the slightly expired orange juice, and he starts spouting off a bunch of stuff, eventually stating that you kick the ball into the net, blah blah blah, maybe even yells at you (depending on how expired that orange juice was).

Remember what your buddy said, then buy him some more slightly expired orange juice.

The question: "How do you win" is a fantastic, if admittedly frustrating, thought exercise to grasp the vital importance of results oriented thinking.

Results oriented thinking is extremely common in part because we emphasize the results over anything else. Winning is what matters at the end of the day, after all. Winning is, however, an indirect consequence to direct actions. To win in most games means nothing more than scoring one more point than the other team. When you go through the exercise answering the question, "how do you win", you invariably begin arguing the conditions that one can actually control that contribute to winning (remember the slightly expired orange juice?). You come to the answer by yourself, which is the best way to understand something. That answer, of course, is that it is easier to describe how to dress a monkey than it is to answer the seemingly simple question "how do you win".

You can't really answer that question without referring to the processes!

Processes lead to results. Processes are direct actions that are therefore repeatable. Results are merely derived from a large set of conditions that may or may not be directly controllable (That was called a penalty! You need some glasses!). If we use making a goal as our example, we do not look at whether the goal went in (result), we look at the process (technique, decision making). If we make smart decisions and shoot with good technique, we will expect to score goals. If we never shoot, we can’t score goals. If we only take low percentage shots, we should expect a low percent of them to go in.

Expectations, as part of an evaluation process, should be therefore based on processes, not results. We once had a question posed here on expectations for Torres in an upcoming season. My answer was that I wanted to see Torres make more near post runs. Maybe he scores a goal, maybe someone else does, maybe it just leads to a chance. We don’t know the outcome. But we do know the power of near post runs and their efficacy in manipulating defender positioning. That is a repeatable process that leads to positive results.

This is not déjà vu if you think you're seeing things. This was resposted from a recent comment at the bequest of David Pasztor. It's a topic that, as he knows, I bring up every once in a while when the discussion sways that way. It's important enough that it is probably time it was posted as a FanPost where it may get more views, and hopefully, more discussions (I really need help getting that monkey to hold still). We're inundated on a daily basis in the sports world with a representation from the results oriented viewpoint. "Winning" is its own meme! We do a lot of talk of evaluation and expectations on this site, and being process oriented, or at least aware of the dangers of focusing so heavily on just results, is a valuable tool in our collective toolbox.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my orange juice is getting old. Wouldn't want that, would we.

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any sort of approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions held by the editors of this site.

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