Johnnie Moore

Practice beats models

Why I prefer the idea of practice to using models
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

A little story about Andre Agassi and our models of reality, versus reality

Transcript of this video:

The tennis player, Andre Agassi, used to explain that the secret to his formidable forehand shots was a little snap of the wrist at a key point in the execution.

Until one day a coach called Vic Braden came along and filmed Agassi using high speed photography, and was able to show him that actually there was no snap of the wrist.

It’s, actually a very, very human failing that we tell ourselves stories about the reasons for our successes and indeed our failures, but they’re all simplifications or self-deceptions.

If you read a book like Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert, there are myriad stories in there about how easily we kid ourselves as to what will actually make us happy.

Stories that bear little or no resemblance to reality.

Phil Rosenzweig wrote a book called The Halo Effect, which does the same thing debunking so many of the myths we hear about successful companies like Apple.

It’s why I’m really really wary of models when working with people because they’re so often idealised versions of reality.

And as soon as we apply them, however useful we may think we are, we’re beginning to blind ourselves to what is actually going on.

So as a rule of thumb I generally prefer practices over models because in a practice what you’re doing is.. you may be doing some familiar process, but what makes it a practice is that you’re paying attention to what’s happening and you’re looking for the bits that aren’t working as usual.

The bits that are unexpected, where there’s a bit of a difference, where there is, it to put it at its simplest, some aliveness in the system.

And I think that the real work of working with each other as human beings is to try to tune into that, to the aliveness, not to the rigid blinkered models that are a substitute for that.


Photo by SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash

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