Planning Ahead

By Luke Zimmermann on July 2, 2010 at 7:00 am
Arrows and bolded text boxes equal legitimacyIt's just that simple.

Our lives are essentially a series of choices. Every decision has a consequence, and every process, no matter how ill conceived or brilliantly quarterbacked, has an outcome. In analyzing outcomes, oversimplification is often necessary in order to quantify large numbers of outcomes in a way that's easiest to study -- with the end in mind being to improve the process that got there in the first place.

For example, this past week Apple, Inc. launched a hot button piece of electronics. Regardless of where you fall on personal preferences for this particular variety of consumer electronics, it's pretty reasonable to assume at some point in the engineering/testing/execution phase, there was what we would deem "a bad process" (NOTE: this is not an invitation to engage in debate over logistics, rumors, and other such areas of expertise few if any of us are truly knowledgeable enough to debate without merely simplifying things into a hackneyed fan boy/hater verbal hot dog eating contest). However, the company ultimately sold 1.7 million of these puppies in a little more than 96 hours. That would qualify for what for our purposes for what we'll call a "good result".

On the flip side, you obviously also have the potential "good processes" -- in this case, had the company taken the time and due diligence to design and produce a phone more able to standup to the intense scrutiny it's drawing. There's also always the possibility of the "bad result". For our examples sake, this would be having a failure rate greatly exceeded the less than 1% of issues the company and most other major electronics manufacturers run into during high scale launches like these -- perhaps even necessitating a hardware recall.

This matrix of good process-good result, good-process-bad result, bad process-good result, bad process-bad result can used rather liberally in a variety of analysis. You certainly don't need any kind of economics or statistical backgrounds to reason that good process-good result is our optimal and desired outcome. Bad process-bad result is clearly something to be shied away from, though often is a justified result in which the party has reaped what they've sown. It's likely most appropriate to crucify good process-bad result as worst case scenario, as your actions have not produced an outcome proportionate to the effort/planning that went in. Though bad process-good result certainly merits its own condemnation for the paltry/substandard efforts made seemingly being rewarded.

So wait, wait, I hear your rushing to bear with me here. How does this apply to us as Ohio State football aficionados, well wishers, observers, and fanatics? Well pretty obvious to everyone who've made their way here, 2010 is looking to play out to be either a phenomenally rewarding achievement, or a soul crippling redux of yet another exercise in futility. I think in order to help us keep our heads level (in some cases out of the clouds, in others out of somewhere, ahem, less desirable) we can use this model and plot a strategic communication modeled approach to making 2010 the kind of season we tell our grandkids glowingly of.

HA HA! Helvetica.

A quick caveat: heed this as but a mere guide; this isn't a sermon so much as a strategic briefing. Everyone has their own expectations for fan hood and what the entire Buckeye football season experience looks like, and I wouldn't dare try and impart a list of best practices for that. What I do recommend is figuring out is using this as a strategy guide to keep from blasting off 300 words when TP inevitably comes out of the gates the way he did against USC last season, or when Ohio State invariably finds themselves in that frustrating playing-down-to-the-opposition mid September or mid October snoozer and you want nothing more than to call for the heads of everyone named Jim on the entire staff. It's easy to forget the entirety of the season is a marathon, not a sprint.

Bad Process, Bad Result

For our purposes, this is the full blown cynical, never happy for even a second, bracing for the inevitable plane crash you just know in your heart of hearts 2010 is going to be nightmare scenario. You know 2010 is the Year of the Tiger, and you just know deep down Ohio State will catch you with your fingers in the proverbial cookie jar as well, publicly destroy your reputation in a red wine, Ambien, and painkiller blur, set you back professionally, and leave you with half of your worldly possessions. You spend every day at work ragging on what a revolving door that J.B. Shugarts is to all your co-workers, blowing up Bucknuts' forums to call for Jim Heacock's "pacifist" head, and awkwardly telling all of your wife/girlfriend's friends' significant others that you always knew that Chimdi Chekwa would let us down at the most inopportune moment. You go into every game expecting to be disappointed in some way, and without fail, you always are. In almost a Belichickian fashion, not losing yields absolutely no joy, but losing sets you off into an emotionally crippling hurricane of hurling epithets and hate speech at opposing fans, @tweeting Duron Carter just for the sake of making you feel better about yourself, and generally embarrassing yourself and everyone else rooting for Ohio State in the process. Two words: cooler poop.

Net outcome: Ohio State goes onto a disappointing in your mind 10-2 regular season before winning a BCS bowl of no consequence to you. Anything less than 2002 every year has left you dead inside. Another cold winter to match your discontent.

Bad Process, Good Result

You spend all your time trashing Herby for selling out his blood brother pact with all things scarlet & gray and trying too hard to be impartial. You hate Chris Fields but not as much as you hate Ross Homan and don't even get you started on that bum Orhian Johnson. Jim Tressel is the worst best coach in the country and you would give multiple fingers and possibly commit a crime to bring Urban Meyer or Pete Carroll back to Columbus. Woody Hayes is a God and you live all aspects of your life imitating the worst caricature of him possible you've invented (you know, ignoring the actual great man that he was underneath the gruff exterior). You've started your own blogspot based blog complete with as many gif's of Calvin peeing on Lloyd Carr as you could possibly put together in Paint.NET and spend as much time as you can trolling on Bleacher Report to engage rival fan bases in virtual pissing contests.

Net outcome: Something magical happens. Ohio State goes on a deep run. One game from winning their second national title in a decade. You still hate Jim Bollman and Jim Heacock with everything in you. You actually attempt to track down Ryan Hamby to sacrifice him to the football gods to see if that will seal the deal. After you're unsuccessful, Ohio State in spite of all odds goes onto win the national title, defeating an SEC team by 13 in the process. You knew it all along! You never stopped believing! You… still want Jim Bollman to retire and are calling for Tressel's head by May unless he brings Walt Harris back to the program or a buzz coordinator like Stanford's David Shaw to mentor Braxton Miller. It's national championship or bust. Again.

Good Process, Bad Result

You love Ohio State as much as anyone. Your two degrees hang proudly on the book case visible to anyone who enters your apartment. You wear a sweatervest to the office every Friday and have scarlet, grey, and even black dress shirts and polos with Block O's on them to rock the other 4 days of the week. The preview magazines? You've got 'em all. You read all the major Ohio State sites and love talking football casually (and cordially) over twitter and Facebook. TP has a few errant throws against Miami, but after a positive outcome when everything's said and done, you're willing to give him the patience you think he deserves in spite of the far from perfect stat line. You take in the Wisconsin game in Madison and despite Bucky Badger faithful everywhere having endured 12+ hours of drinking, you leave the stadium after a hard fought win congratulating everyone sober you can find and enjoy a fun Saturday night at The Kollege Klub and Opus Lounge, even trading business cards with some Wisky fans after shooting some pool, throwing some darts, and sharing some rounds. You spend the early November bye hitting up the LSU/Alabama game in Baton Rouge, befriend fans from both sides of the aisle, and have a wild weekend of tailgating and spicy living. Your love for college football as a whole's grown and your experience palette's grown just a tiny bit more.

Net outcome: Despite all your time and investment in the 2010 football season, the football gods don't smile kindly. The Penn State game is closer than you think it should've been, the Buckeyes barely escape Kinnick with a W, and despite making it 11 games undefeated, Rich Rod, coaching in his final game, goes into Columbus and takes down the Bucks. You're not ashamed to shed some tears and although you know you're going to the Rose Bowl anyways, part of you almost wishes you weren't. Another year, another heartbreak. College football's cruel joke.

Good Process, Good Result

2010's going to be the most rewarding Ohio State season in some time. You finally sell the wife on getting that 55 inch 3D 120 Hz HDTV and DirecTV. You couple that with your old 32 inch ands tup a mean Man Cave in your basement. You and your boys watch each game, having a couple, enjoying a variety of wings/pizza/misc. grilled delectables, and spending the game analytically shooting the breeze with respect to the Bucks and how they match up against the opposing team's 2 deeps. You guys rewind on big and controversial plays and use the time accrued on pause/rewind to skip through all the commercial. Don't get you wrong, part of you die's a little at the prospect of each Ohio State loss, but you know win or lose the sun's still rising Sunday morning. You listen to 97.1 out of habit, find a lot of the callers a bit disconnected from reality, but love the passion they have for the school of your youth regardless. You impress a prospective client at a networking event discussing the 2011 class and key targets for 2012. Week after week goes by and despite missing the Indiana game due to a wedding, you rematch your DVR'ed copy 3 times, breaking down offensive trends and looking for the few scarce potential areas of improvement for an already legendary looking defense you could discuss with your coworkers on Monday. Penn State, Iowa, and the Michigan game come and go and after 3 instant classics, you can't believe the prospects of an undefeated season are 30 days away. You give you brother-in-law, an Iowa alum, some friendly grief but ultimately wish them the best in their respective trip to Glendale.

Net outcome: Ohio State takes fellow unbeaten Oklahoma deep into the 4th quarter in a low scoring 13-16 affair. With just under a minute and a half to play, Terrelle Pryor leads a drive for the ages culminating with a Brandon Saine catch on a tipped ball deflection taken across the end zone for the go ahead score. Your hearts racing as you know it's far from over yet. History plays out on your side, seemingly for the first time in forever, and Ohio State has its 6th recognized national title. This is sweeter than you even imagined and you now completely appreciate that it couldn't have been this sweet without the sour of the 2006 and 2007.

Again, I make no claims this is a playbook. Rather, this is simply a verbal outline, or "Choose Your Own Adventure" if you must, for the coming season.

So what did your 2002 like? Were you still wondering why the Bucks brought in a D-1AA guy to run the show even going into Tempe or did you just kinda let things come to you and learn to love the ride as it went along? What's your M.O. for 2K10?