by Josh Blacksmith
As some of you may recall, in 2014, Warren Buffet hosted an NCAA Men’s Basketball March Madness bracket challenge: If entrants were to make every pick correctly (63 games), they would win one billion dollars. It drew a massive number of entries, but Warren had little to fear – the odds of getting every pick right on a bracket are one in over nine quintillion. So, yes, I’m saying “there’s a chance” you can go perfect, but it’s clearly not likely. Now, I believe I’m a very rational person, but every year after I build out my bracket, I step away believing mine is sure to be a winner (don’t we all?). This phenomenon is a cognitive bias known as illusory superiority, “whereby individuals overestimate their own qualities and abilities, relative to others.” Of course, once the results start to hit, I quickly realize just how flawed my picking ability really is. My point is this: In marketing, much like in picking your March Madness brackets, we generally make predictions and assumptions based on the set of available data, but we can never be certain in anything we do until after we let the results play out. That’s the amazing thing about what we do every day – no one embraces failing fast as much as data driven marketers who realize it’s the only real way to uncover successful hypotheses.