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Litigation Management and Magical Thinking

There was a TV commercial a few years ago in which a wide-eyed guy’s favorite football team scores every time he goes into his basement to get more beer, so he concludes he has “cracked the code,” leaves his friends and goes down into the scary basement one more time “for the win.” That spot depicted a form of magical thinking, which according to psychologists Leonard Zusne and Warren Jones in Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking involves believing “that one’s thoughts, words, or actions can achieve specific physical effects in a manner not governed by the principles of ordinary transmission of energy or information.”

Magical thinking is a normal dimension of thinking in young children, of course. At around age seven or eight most children begin to think logically and are better able to grasp cause and effect relationships, so they move away from magical thinking.

Yet magical thinking endures in many adults — sports fans, athletes, coaches, gamblers, sailors, politicians, CEOs, and even some litigation managers. Think of all the people you know who regularly use superstitious rituals to help produce a desired outcome — following lucky routines, crossing fingers and hoping, avoiding behavior that might jinx the result, etc. While such rituals might be irrational, they are usually harmless, which may be why the tagline for the beer commercial described earlier was: “It’s Only Weird if it Doesn’t Work”

Let’s be clear — there’s no room for magical thinking in claims litigation management. It doesn’t work. Wishing and hoping aren’t winning management strategies. The best outcomes on litigated claims happen when attorneys and litigation managers collaborate regularly, communicate effectively, have joint access to critical claim information, and make evidence-based litigation management decisions together.

If you want to help your legal and claims professionals collaborate more effectively on your toughest litigated claims, don’t rely on magical thinking. Check out ClaimEdge, a highly secure collaboration platform designed to help attorneys and litigation managers communicate more effectively, make better decisions, reduce costs, and improve claim outcomes.

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