The lead story last night on espn.com was an opinion column about the Masters (sorry – I can’t find the link for it – they appear to have buried it now). The premise of the story is that at 7 strokes off the lead, neither Phil Mickelson nor Tiger Woods has a chance to win the tournament today. Why, because all of the winners since 2001 have been in the final pairing. When I started writing this, Tiger & Lefty were both 1 stroke off the lead. It’s looking now like they’ll both fall a bit short, but it’s been an awfully entertaining day of golf so far.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about forecasting. How can you rule something out based on an 8 year pattern (especially in a tournament that has been running for 75 years?)? We have such a strong habit of extrapolating recent trends and thinking that tells us everything we need to know. It takes no imagination at all to do this. But new stuff happens all the time – and the first step is always to imagine something new. That’s the start of innovation.
Actually, if we’re extrapolating the person who really doesn’t have a chance is Kenny Perry. After all, he’s 48 years old and the oldest Masters champion ever was Jack Nicklaus at 46. So if we extrapolate out all of the previous 74 Masters tourneys, then Perry can’t win. Except he’s up by 1 with 5 holes left….
Saying that something can’t be done because it hasn’t been done before is the easiest thing in the world. It’s a lot harder to imagine something new, harder still to actually make it happen. But that’s how innovations happen.