Short List Interviews Anything But Predictable

Posted on January 6, 2012


College bowl season is in full swing again. For college football fans, bowl season offers a coda to the football season with a plethora of matchups, and a game almost every night between mid-December and the first week in January, culminating in a national champion.

However, bowl game outcomes are notoriously hard-to-predict. For the casual fan, this adds excitement; but for businesses that rely on competitive matchups, this creats a potentially risky and expensive problem for bowl organizers, sponsors, oddsmakers and sportsbooks, the part of casinos that manages sports betting.

One reason bowl game predictions are difficult is inconsistent player and team motivation. A less-discussed reason is teams are very unlikely to play to form. More specifically, this means on game day teams rarely act like the team they were during the regular season—the team scouted on videotape by the opposition.

Why? Well, teams playing in bowl games have more preparation time than usual to invest in game strategy (several weeks instead of a few days), which leads to trick plays.  College bowl games have a greater frequency of fake field goals and punts, onside kicks, and unusually-designed passing plays like the ‘Statue of Liberty’ than during the regular season. Trick plays are riskier, which leads to unpredicability. Therefore, teams have a tough time preparing for their opponents because they simply don’t know what to expect.

Short list interviews for a hospital project are often not much different. I spoke recently with a Vice President of Strategic Planning for a healthcare system about team selection. He said he has a tough time making selections on short lists because “you like something about every team” yet can’t trust everything you hear either. Not only that, but he has seen similar unpredictability play out behind the scenes in the hospital’s selection committee, whether it be politics or power plays. He recounted an instance where one member was able to turn the entire selection committee composed of corporate leadership and intially in favor of one team, to select his preferred team (think:  Twelve Angry Men).

Low risk / high reward scenarios like short list interviews lead to similar gambits, or ‘trick plays’, by design and construction teams.  Teams with weeks to prepare for an interview find endless ways to impress owners, but such tactics are only measures of a team’s creativity or bankroll.

Owners want to meet the real team and want their expectations met. Owners do not want tricks; they want trust. How does your hospital combat trick plays and avoid selecting a paper team?