No one wants to bet the under

Tom C W
2 min readFeb 17, 2024
Photo by Tim Hart on Unsplash

In sports betting there is something called over/under, whereby you bet on a number. You can bet on points, goals, fouls, and any other number of ultimately pointless things. A line is set, and you bet whether it goes over or under that line.

Statistically, especially when it comes to things like goals or points, the under wins more than the overs. And yet more money is wagered on the overs. Why?

Well psychologically, the overs feel more exciting. And you’re always in with a shot of winning with the overs. Who wants to bet on a game being less exciting?

It often feels like this in the world of work. When it comes to improving an organisation, the under often feels like the fundamentals, the “boring” stuff like culture, communication, clarity on data uses, governance…human things. The overs? Well that is the exciting stuff, the dashboards, the new chat tool, AI….

If you’re in an organisation, do you want to be told:

“this will take a real truthful look at who we are, how we communicate, what messages we are sending when we make changes, who gets to decide this, what are our principles, how do we define information in a common language……?

Or

“here’s an app, that’ll fix it”

As a consultant I can tell, it’s much easier to sell the easy fix. It’s much easier to sell the product and walk away. But is it better?

Don’t get me wrong, often a digital tool can help, but it’s just a tool. And using a good tool in a crap way might make things faster maybe, but not better.

Does signing everyone up to slack really improve how you communicate or just create another space for people to miss things?

That cool new dashboard that doesn’t help people make decisions that really improve an organisation, is that helpful?

Does using co-pilot to summarise meetings really improve how effective those meetings are?

Sure we can use chatGPT or midjourney, or dall e to create more content….but do we really need MORE content? Do we not need better content?

The buzz around AI is the ultimate over. Why bother with any of that boring stuff when we can just get AI to do it? Or when we’ve saved so much time via AI we can fix some of that other stuff. I get it, I do, it’s exciting. But most of the talk is abstract, and misses the point in that it doesn’t really make things better

So next time someone is effusing over the potential of AI and you’re thinking ooh that looks exciting, ask yourself, am I betting the over?

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Tom C W

Do Good, Be Awesome. Thoughts on startups, social change, awesome things, and possibly running.