Cincinnati Bengals and the status quo bias


Of all the mental biases that I have witnessed, probably the most prevalent and difficult to eradicate is the status quo bias. Many people are just simply not able to bring themselves to change a situation that is just not working. For these people, that would be admitting defeat, or worse, that a decision they made was wrong. If there is one thing that history has proven, people who have thought they couldn’t be wrong about something were. Anyone want to guess if the future will look back on us the same way?

For Bob Nutting, he simply can’t accept that spending money is a prerequisite (not a guarantee) for success and hires only those that are willing to tell him that he is right. For the Cincinnati Bengals, the stubborn insistence on not developing an NFL-caliber scouting department, and sticking with the same coach who has generated alternating losing and mediocre seasons is comical from the outside. Mike Brown adds to the comedy when he says that scouting is working, because in the last ten years, the Bengals have a better-than-average proportion of home grown talent starting for them compared to other NFL teams. The record of that group over the last ten years…68-93-1. Statistics used by those with little knowledge of statistics is always a good time. Paul Daugherty does an excellent job describing the situation here.

The business equivalent happens when changes are managed poorly, normally through a top-down change dictated from above. In project management, unknowable items are diligently planned, debated and re-inserted into the plan which has no discernible effect other than to delay the start of work.

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