The Danger of Making Decisions based upon Averages

By Bill Schmarzo | May 16, 2021

If you make decisions based upon averages, at best, you’ll get average results”

During the 1950s[1], United States Air Force pilots were having trouble controlling their planes. The problem turned out to be the cockpit, or more specifically, the fact that the cockpit had just one design: one designed for the 1920’s average pilot. The Air Force concluded that they simply needed to update their measurement of the average pilot, adjust the cockpit accordingly, and the pilot handling troubles would go away.

With the help of Lieutenant Gilbert Daniels, the Air Force measured more than 4,000 pilots across 10 size dimensions. The air force had assumed that the vast majority of pilots would fall within average across the 10 dimensions. In reality, none – none – fell within average across the 10 dimensions; that is, out of 4,000 pilots, zero of them were “average”…

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