Recently I’ve been fascinated by the idea of “adjustments” in professional sports. I’ve been trying to apply the same perspective and concept of “making adjustments” at work.

In basketball, each team is making adjustments in a rapid fire way…

Your main scorer gets injured…so you make adjustments.

Your opponent decides to deliberately foul you using Hack-a-shack…so you make adjustments.

Your bench player is having an incredible night, better than your stars…so you make an adjustment.

At work, I’ve started to look at change as an adjustment. It is extremely easy to argue that “wait but we just decided on x and now you want to switch to y?”. The answer often is “yes” as long as it is well-reasoned. Since I started seeing revising of decisions as an adjustment it’s become much easier to change my actions, perspectives and philosophy in light of new information.

That last part is critical: there needs to be a clear basis for an adjustment when possible. This is something that is much easier to obtain in competitive sports where you know you are getting your ass kicked by your opponent and must adjust or lose. At a new business though, you will rarely see a clear signal that an adjustment is needed. Still, keep a few things in mind:

1. You will still make incorrect adjustments, but hopefully fewer over time

2. Asking yourself these two questions before making an adjustment can be super helpful. (a) “Why do I think an adjustment may be needed?” (b) “How will I know if _____ change is having the intended impact?”

3. If you are making an adjustment without pondering and answering the question above, you are likely making an unneeded, incorrect or arbitrary decision. The good thing is, in my experience the above two questions become easier to answer after you have done it a few times. And ultimately, this becomes second nature and you begin seeing work as a set of rapid adjustments with a defined feedback loop.

My hypothesis is that if my feedback loop is relatively accurate in its reporting and we as a company make at least a majority of the required adjustments and do it extremely well, we’ll do just fine.

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