January 5, 2017

Thresholds, Granny Shots and Group Think...(Disruptor Series Part 2)

In his new podcast Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell tackles the idea of thresholds.

By the way, if you have not read any of his articles or books, you are truly missing out. He is a fantastic storyteller and although sometimes controversial, has great insight as to how humans think and work. Go HERE for more info on Gladwell.

Here is the basic idea:

Wilt Chamberlain, arguably one of the greatest NBA stars of all times, the only player to record a 100 point game...was one of the WORST free throw shooters ever.

Rick Barry, another NBA great, was the best free throw shooter of all times.

Both players are ranked in the NBA's Top 50

Both players are recognizable to basketball fans throughout the world for different reasons. 

The most glaring difference probably relates to physical attributes that cannot be denied.

Wilt was a behemoth, playing at 7' 1" and dominating the inside like no one else could.


Rick Barry shot free throws underhanded.

Yes, that is correct, the ole granny shot. With a 90% free throw made rate, who could argue with those stats?

Well, apparently all of basketball. Since that time, how many other folks have you seen shooting underhand? Can you count on one hand? My guess would be yes.


If it is effective, why do we not see more people shooting this way?

Good news! Someone is bringing it back. Chinanu Onuaku from the Houston Rockets starting shooting that way at Louisville and he says it has helped him.

Will it take root??

Probably not...

The reason Gladwell says this conflict exists is this idea of low vs. high threshold personalities. A high threshold personality is one that is dictated by what the "crowd" thinks. While the low threshold does not concern themselves with the crowd.

Wilt = high threshold = does not want to look foolish in front of the crowd
Rick = low threshold = does not give a crap about what the crowd thinks

Is this something that exists in your schools, businesses, houses etc??

Would it be beneficial to know who around might exhibit either a high or low threshold personality?? 

I believe it could make a huge impact!

Think about working on a project. If the entire group consists of high threshold personalities, there is a likelihood that group think will occur. Basically, everyone will agree and in reality, no one agrees.

Ever heard of the Abeline Paradox??

What if everyone had a low threshold personality?? There literally could be fights!

The balance is necessary. 

I visited Chattanooga STEM recently (my third or fourth visit). Each time I visit, I gain something new and interesting. Tony Donen, the principal at Chattanooga STEM, talked about how ALL of their students are given the Myers-Briggs Test. The results of that personality test are used throughout the year to help group those students on different projects.

Instead of grouping by ability, group by personality?? 

Looking at personalities and using the results may be something worthy to examine.

Back to Rick and Wilt. To this day, Rick Barry works with young players to attempt to convince them to consider his way of shooting. He believes that ALL players can be good free throw shooters, they just have to have confidence, good form and practice. I bet he even still wonders why more people do not shoot that way. I bet if Wilt were still alive, he would have that answer...

No way...it's a granny shot!


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