Friday, June 22, 2012

Guest Post: Sustainable Irresponsibility: The Case of Drosselmeyer

--Mark Cramer

Do you feel unappreciated at your workplace? Are you taken for granted by your children? Do you find yourself finishing the tasks of others who are less responsible than you?

If so, you might consider the lesson of Drosselmeyer. Drosselmeyer tells us that if we are too responsible, then we become predictable. When we are predictable, our work depreciates in pari-mutuel value, as was the case at Ascot when Frankel returned his backers only 10 cents on the dollar at Ascot.

The lesson of Drosselmeyer is called sustainable irresponsibility. Of course, most persistent irresponsibility is not sustainable and can get people fired or land them in jail. But some degree of irresponsibility enhances the appreciation we get when we do our job, in the workplace, as parents, and in other domains.

Drosselmeyer     Sarah K Andrew photo
Drosselmeyer raced 15 times in his career, with five victories. What his publicity agents at WinStar Farm don’t tell us is that Drosselmeyer was a beaten favorite six times! Surely you can call this irresponsibility. He was expected to get the job done and he didn’t. Perhaps he was telling the world, “don’t take me for granted”. But for Drosselmeyer’s backers at the betting windows, this irresponsibility was remarkably sustainable, because it boosted his average mutuel.

If you had played Drosselmeyer an equal $2 to win for each of his starts, you’d have invested $30.00 and gotten back $74.10. That’s more than a 140% return on investment! And even if you had not bet  on him in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic, for a cool $31.60 payoff, you still would have had a 50% return on investment by playing him all his other races, which would be the envy of hedge fund operators.

(Watch Drosselmeyer get the job done in the BC Classic, without showing his hand until the stretch. Great call from Trevor Denman.

Drosselmeyer was also profitable in the place hole, and even in the show pool you made more than a 50% return on investment by backing him every time.
Pari-mutuel sustainability involves a measured dose of irresponsibility. A more hidden form of pari-mutuality exists in everyday life. Our human wager value is enhanced when we are not perceived as a sure bet.

Drosselmeyer already has a steady job at WinStar Farm. Too bad! He could have had his collection of how-to literature: Raising Children by the Drosselmeyer Method, How to Get Ahead at the Workplace according to Drosselmeyer, Don’t Be Predictable, and why not, Sustainable Irresponsibility.

No comments: