Sharp shooting – make accurate predictions in record time
The term “shooting from the hip” has always appealed to me. It may have something to do with the Westerns I watched with my dad and brother growing up. Amid the dust and wide brimmed hats, there would be a showdown. The scene would feature two men standing in an abandoned street facing one another a couple of metres apart. Then suddenly, the silence would be broken by a gunshot and one of the men would be on the ground as quick as a flash.
Aside from the ethical conundrum of violence, the image stuck in my mind. What I think resonated with me most was the certainty I felt that the ‘good guy’ would always win. It was a fact. The director assured you of it all throughout the movie by subtly hinting at his character and skill. The moment the trigger was pulled came after many preparatory experiences.
Decision making is exactly like this. Especially when it comes to a fast-paced environment like marketing. As an agency we are tasked with representing many companies on high traffic platforms, which puts a great amount of pressure on quick decision making.
In his book Blink: the power of thinking without thinking, Malcolm Gladwell expounds on quick decision making. Gladwell shares on the psychology behind people’s snap judgements using simple examples from actual occurrences. The introductory example is that of an ancient Greek statue that the Gettysburg museum in America was interested in purchasing. The process of purchasing this piece of artwork included 14 months of verifying its authenticity, and only after putting it on display was it discovered to be fake.
Upon observation, Italian art historian, Federico Zeri, thought that the statue's fingernails ‘seemed wrong to him.’ When asked what was wrong he was unable to explain it, but could not shake his ‘bad feeling.’ In another example Gladwell uses Vic Braden, a top tennis coach, who was able to predict when a tennis player was going to serve badly twice in a row (double fault). Again, Braden could not seem to explain why he was able to make this prediction with such accuracy.
So, what was it then? How could these people make such confident statements - which proved to be true – without having concrete evidence to back it up?
They were experts.
An expert is on the top rung of the ladder in their field, having interacted with their chosen field for a number of years and in many ways. They have assimilated knowledge and practiced it, probably making a few mistakes along the way but now being able to reach into the holster and shoot with confidence without needing to aim.
Ergo the solution to becoming a quick decision maker? Become an expert. It may be argued that this is not an easy thing, that natural ability has a lot to do with it. I would argue that commitment to progress can yield unexpected results.
Here are a few tips which can be used to hone your firing skills:
- Learn technique: make sure that you have a solid foundation from which to work
- Follow other experts: assess what your idols are doing, their victories and failures
- Gather information: read articles on various topics which pertain to your field
- Share the process: invite others to critique your work
- SHOOT: go for it. Practice, practice, practice.
And finally, have fun! It is the driving force behind work that is exceptional vs acceptable. As Gladwell would say, “It's very hard to find someone who is successful and dislikes what they do.”
We couldn’t agree more.
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