Performance data and wisdom

I had just finished reading an Eric Colson post, What AI-Driven Decision Making Looks Like (link) when up popped a Training Ground Guru article Dave Reddin: Football performance is facing a ‘generational challenge’ (link).

In his post, Eric observes “data holds the insights that can enable better decisions; processing is the way to extract those insights and take actions”. He adds:

There are many business decisions that depend on more than just structured data. Vision statements, company strategies, corporate values, market dynamics all are examples of information that is only available in our minds and transmitted through culture and other forms of non-digital communication. This information is inaccessible to AI and extremely relevant to business decisions.

I was particularly struck by the culture (my emphasis) part of this argument and “other forms of non-digital communication”. It reminded me very much of Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s discussion of the social construction of reality (link) and brought this quote to mind “social order exists only as a product of human activity”.

In the Training Ground Guru article, Dave is quoted as observing “previous generations of sports scientists have created a real problem for our athletes in over-measuring and creating over-cautious coaches”. Dave’s thoughts resonate strongly with Tony Strudwick’s comments too (link).

Dave’s (and Tony’s) observations led me to think about effort and performance ceilings. Dave notes “If you don’t push, you will never create the resilience and physical capability. It’s a big watch out. How do we use measurement intelligently?”.

We now have more data about performance than we have ever had. I see the intelligent measurement as key to our understanding of performance. It is an issue Eric Colson has grappled with too. It involves wisdom and the ability to synthesise atomistic data points into an organic understanding of short, medium, and long-term performance.

Monika Ardelt (link) “defines, operationalizes, and measures wisdom as an integration of cognitive, reflective, and affective personality characteristics”. Wisdom is realised by a person.

Of these wise people, Monika observes:

They perceive a deeper truth that had a profound effect on their personality and conduct in life. Hence, they teach others as much by words as by personal example. Second, wise individuals are able to transcend their subjectivity and projections and look at events objectively and from many different perspectives.

She invites researchers ” to continue the dialogue about the appropriate definition, operationalization, and measurement of wisdom”. This is where the issues Dave and Tony raise meet.

Collectively, they have vast understanding of performance. Their careers have witnessed at first hand the growing amounts of data available and how they have managed in cognitive, reflective and affective ways to keep an organic sense of performance. It is Monika’s assertion that these three characteristics embody personal wisdom.

The opportunity exists to debate this wisdom in sport performance environments and to explore how we might conceive of and support holistic performance compared to a data environment of atomistic records of training and competition.

Photo Credit

Eric Muhr on Unsplash

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