Individual decision making, A Decision/Action Model for Soccer – Pt 8


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Keeping up with systemic change.

“There’s something unsettling about seeing the brain as one big argument. We like to
believe that our decisions reflect a clear cortical consensus, that the entire mind agrees
on what we should do. And yet, that serene self-image has little basis in reality.” [4]
Jonah Lehrer – How We Decide

“He who can handle the quickest rate of change survives.” [6]
John Boyd – Frans Osinga, Science, Strategy and War, The Strategic Theory of John Boyd

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Individual decision making, A Decision/Action Model for Soccer – Pt 8

  1. 1. A Decision/Action Model for Soccer – Pt 8 Individual decision making Keeping up with systemic change“There’s something unsettling about seeing the brain as one big argument. We like tobelieve that our decisions reflect a clear cortical consensus, that the entire mind agreeson what we should do. And yet, that serene self-image has little basis in reality.” [4]Jonah Lehrer – How We Decide“He who can handle the quickest rate of change survives.” [6]John Boyd – Frans Osinga, Science, Strategy and War, The Strategic Theory of John Boyd 1
  2. 2. Cognitive hardware “The mind is made up out of used parts” [4]According to Lehrer there are three decision-making systems. They are interrelated andtogether operate on a functional level.  The emotional system. The orbitofrontal cortex and limbic system are “responsible for integrating visceral emotions into the decision-making process.” [4] The emotional system is synonymous with System 1 and works through neuromodulators like dopamine.  The rational system. The prefrontal cortex (what separates man from lower animals) “lets her analyze any type of problem from any possible angle. Instead of responding to the most obvious facts, or the facts that her emotions think are most important, she can concentrate on the facts that might help her come up with the right answer.” [4] The rational system is synonymous with System 2.  The moral/social system. Mirror neurons “allow us to grasp the minds of others not through conceptual reasoning but through direct simulation; by feeling, not by thinking.” “The capacity for making moral decisions is innate… but it still requires the right kind of experience in order to develop.” [4] Moral decision-making replaces ‘me with we.’ Subjectivity gives way to the intersubjective point of view. [2]  “Man is by nature a social animal… Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self- sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.” Aristotle. [4] 2
  3. 3. Decision-making as an argument “The default state of the brain is indecisive disagreement; various mental parts are constantly insisting that the other parts are wrong.” [4]In soccer the emotional, rational and moral/social systems are rarely on the same page. Eachsystem constrains and feeds the other two. The interactions are dynamic, unpredictablecombinations of feed forward and feedback loops. In turn this creates conflict and tension inthe decision-making process. In this sense, decision-making is an emergent property basedon systemic thresholds, available information, context, experience, time and resources i.e.other people.Over reliance on one system or coalition can create certainty, a bias, in decision-making. Thisleads to predictable behavior which opponents can exploit and becomes the infamous ‘myonly tool is a hammer approach.’ In order to survive or thrive in an unpredictable world it’simportant to avoid this trap:  “Certainty imposes consensus on this inner cacophony. It lets you pretend that your entire brain agrees with your behavior. You can now ignore those annoying fears and nagging suspicions, those statistical outliers and inconvenient truths.” [4]  “The only way to counteract this bias for certainty is to encourage some inner dissonance. We must force ourselves to think about the information we don’t want to think about, to pay attention to the data that disturbs our entrenched beliefs.” [4]A touch of doubt keeps an open mind which allows for rapid transitions between the systems. 3
  4. 4. The individual’s sweet spot “The first step to making better decisions is to see ourselves as we really are, to look inside the black box of the human brain.” [4] A simple hierarchy for individual decision making is:1. When you have enough experience and ‘get the picture’ choose the first emotional response that comes to mind. Follow your gut; use System 1.2. When there’s ‘a doubt in mind’ and time is available use reason. Take an educated guess; use System 2.3. When you are confused find a teammate and follow his or her lead. Follow the leader; look to authority, formal and informal for direction, protection and order. Imitate and complement positive behavior. Just like the model in part-7, thiscreates a sweet spot at ‘a’. Balancingthe decision strategies betweenemotion, reason andmoral/social considerations requires selfand situational awareness. However, thereare situations that benefit from a limitedstrategy such as taking a free kick (heavyreason) or being a goal down with fiveminutes to play (stronger emotion). 4
  5. 5. The context for initial decisions “Minds choose what to do next.” [3]“I think of minds as the control structures of autonomous agents. The function of a mind is ateach instance to decide what to do next… A mechanism of mind is some piece of thearchitecture of such a control structure that enables it to so decide.” [3]Players are confronted with an overwhelming number of options (details) to choose from andact on. These details come in the form of a constant flow of bits of feedback, unfoldingcircumstances and new information. Individuals monitor this flow through a coalition ofrational, emotional, moral (REM) filters. In turn, this adds another layer to the complexity ofthe decision-making process. (How do I decide what to do now? What tool do I use to goforward now?)Note; as additional elements are addeddecision-making becomes more complex.Boundaries are smaller, timescales decrease,points of departure and coalitions flip unpredictably.Tightly coupled systems are rigid and harder tochange; too loose and there’s nothing for the systemto start from. Additionally, this increases noise whichmakes the correct response harder to find. 5
  6. 6. Balancing decision systems Ramp up or tamp down with negative feedback The diagram below shows how negative feedback works in the REM model. Rational, emotional, moral/social or a coalition decision-making process is the context. The baseline is the goal state in that context, the so-called point of optimization The upper limit is the boundary between current orientation and the need to reorient. Exceeding the boundary leads to a positive feedback explosion, too much tension, confusion and chaos. The lower limit is the boundary between current orientation and a lack of stimulation, the line of ‘too easy and boring.’ Attention is blocked. All of this unfolds against passing time. The oscillating negative feedback line tracks the individuals responses to changing goal states over time. Since the context, internal/external environments are constantly in flux the baseline, upper and lower limits continually change. The player with the greatest sensitivity to the “difference that makes a difference” [1] has an OODA advantage. The player caught in a positive feedback loop or is slow to reorient to change is headed for a “brutal audit.” [7] “Our ability to deal with chaos depends on structures that have been developed before the chaos arrives. When the chaos arrives, it serves as "an abrupt and brutal audit.”’ [7] 6
  7. 7. Rinus MichelsOutsmarting them, out fighting them and team efficient solutions are the “path to winning” “Only the player can anticipate the unpredictability of the constantly changing moments in the game. His team tactical education is focused on finding the most team efficient solution in every situation he comes across. This means: to get everything and maybe even a little more out of the game! Not only does every player want to outsmart his opponent and win the ‘battles’, but he also wants to win the game! He cannot do this by himself. He can only succeed with teamwork while defending, building-up and attacking. The individual challenge and team spirit are uncompromisingly linked together. It does not matter how many years they have played, how much money they have already made, the challenge and love for the ‘battle’ will never cease to exist even in top in top-notch players.” [5] Outsmarting the opponent requires reason; team efficient solutions are based on moral/social decision-making across distributed tasks; battles are a contest of emotional will. Winning, in the long run, requires all three. 7
  8. 8. Summary“’Anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to become angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.’ That requires some thought.” [4] “The ability to supervise itself, to exercise authority over its own decision-making process, is one of the most mysterious talents of the human brain.” [4] Ultimately the avenues that players use for decision-making are reason, emotion, moral/social or a coalition. These avenues are laid down and influenced through their genetic heritage, cultural traditions and previous experience; (These create the structures that have to deal with the “brutal audits” on slide 6). An individuals structural and systemic strength or weakness in any avenue is relative to the context i.e. age, position and level. The structures and systems are not stable, they are open to growth and decay. The avenues create internal and interrelated positive and negative feedback loops.  Unchecked thinking leads to paralysis by analysis; not enough thinking allows emotion to run free i.e. bull headed.  Unchecked emotion leads to red cards; not enough emotion surrenders before the ‘battle’ begins.  Unchecked moral/social considerations hinders individual initiative; not enough moral/social thought leads to ‘the lone wolf’.  The balance between too much - too little, too long - too short inside and between these avenues has to be right. In short, emergent negative feedback cycles and loops must aim for an ever changing point of equilibrium. Considering that all of the players are experiencing the same thing it’s clear that the time spent developing the fingerspitzengefühl inside the team is a vital component for individual development as well as Teambuilding. Interaction is enhanced when a player understands their own and others rational, emotional and moral/social point of view. In short, a highly developed sense of empathy is paramount to individual play and team cohesion. 8
  9. 9. Selected references1. BATESON, G. March 2013, ( BEA, R. 2011, Managing Rapidly Developing Crises: Real-Time Prevention of Failures (Deepwater Horizon Study Group, Working Paper).3. FRANKLIN, S. March 2013, ( LEHRER, J. 2010, How We Decide (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company).5. MICHELS, R. 2001, Teambuilding, The Road to Success (Spring City, Pa: Reedswain).6. OSINGA, F. 2007, Science, Strategy and War, The Strategic Theory of John Boyd (New York: Routledge).7. WEICK, K. March 2013, ( 9
  10. 10. Thank you “I’ll live or die by my own ideas.” Johan CruyffPresentation created March, 2013 by Larry Paul, Peoria Arizona.All references are available as stated.All content is the responsibility of the author.For questions contact me at, subject decision/actionmodel.For additional information see the the other pdf’s on Slideshare under the moretab or visit the bettersoccermorefun channel on YouTube. 10