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Why are good ideas so hard to adopt?


If you’ve not yet heard the Malcolm Gladwell podcast Revisionist History then check it out now! My favourite episode so far is about the legendary basketball player Wilt Chamberlain who in 1962 scored an incredible 100 points in one game, the only player in NBA history to do so. What’s more incredible is that Chamberlain scored 28 of his 32 free throws. A success rate of 87.5%. What’s more incredible is that his average success rate was normally 50%.

So what accounted for the massive increase in his success? A simple change in technique. Instead of shooting with his hands above his heads he held the ball between his legs with his arms hanging straight down. This is a more ergonomically natural position for your arms and there are less mechanical issues that can go wrong in release resulting in a more accurate shot. It is also a “softer shot” with a less flat trajectory. Therefore a shot that would have previously bounced off the rim and out was now more likely to land.

This shot is more commonly known as the “granny” shot and due to how Chamberlain felt that this was perceived he soon returned to the more traditional overhead shooting technique for free throws and, you guessed it, his success rate dropped and teams returned to fouling Chamberlain as, at 7 foot 1, he was likely to score around the net but if you fouled him then there was a 50% chance he would miss. Instead of winning games for his team his pride got in the way and he continued to shoot overhead.

How many times in our business life’s do we stop doing something that we know is working because something else comes up. Do you even know what is and isn’t working – do you test and measure and retest and measure again?

The small changes that we can make can make huge differences to our business. What good idea are you going to adopt today?