Was it ever coming home?

Probably not.

Despite most people expecting England to beat Croatia, it was still unlikely that football would be ‘coming home’. If you reckoned that England had a 55% chance of beating Croatia, they probably had no more than a 45% chance of beating France in the final – so a less than 25% chance overall.

At the start of the tournament, if you assumed that England were 80% likely to get out of the group stage and 50:50 for the knock-out stages, then England had a 5% chance of returning with the trophy – ­and a 95% chance of not. Even Brazil, the favourites before the start, were more likely to be unsuccessful (65%) than win it (35%).

It struck me that this does illustrate how we can easily trick ourselves into thinking something is much more likely to happen when we want a particular result. In an ICT project for instance you might think that the technology solution has an 85% chance of working flawlessly first time out and that there is a 60% chance of convincing everyone to adopt and use the new process the right way the first time they do use it. These seem pretty good odds, but it means that it’s only 50:50 that the new system will work faultlessly first time round. So, we do need to check our own optimism bias when we’re working on projects.

But, as the song says it “never stopped me dreaming”.  Roll on the 2020 Euros.

Meet the author

Ian Bennett

Ian Bennett

Ian is an expert in change management, efficiency reviews, business cases and costing in the public sector. Ian has over 30 years of experience of working in the public sector, as a civil servant, an auditor and as a consultant, covering central and local government, defence,… Read more »