Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Build Your All-Star Team

In his recent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane wrote about the ways in which technology is set to change sports, from the pros down to the high school level. Anyone who has read Moneyball by Michael Lewis or seen the film knows that Beane's approach to building a baseball team is based heavily on statistics, so naturally analytics play a central role in his vision for the future of tech in sports. What Beane has to say about the world of sports however holds lessons for anyone in the business of putting together a successful team.

Uncover the Right Skills

Beane's A's have won their division the last two years, they have the best record in baseball this year heading into the All-Star break, they are sending six players to today's All-Star game, and they've accomplished all of this on a below-average payroll. So it seems Beane knows a thing or two about identifying top talent. In his op-ed, Beane talks about the wealth of data that will soon become available on players across all sports, and how the most successful teams will be those whose front offices can best use the data to find the players they need. In particular, data will reveal "practiced skills," abilities which players have honed and can continue to hone through hard work, vs. natural ability which might be impressive on the surface but can mask fundamental flaws.

In baseball, for example, data might show a particular pitcher can't throw exceptionally hard but can consistently hit the edges of the strike zone. Traditionally that player might have been overlooked for a pitcher who can hurl 95 mph but lacks great control, but smart teams won't make that mistake in the future. Likewise, in the new world of data, a hitter who can lay off pitches out of the strike zone might now look more attractive than a slugger whose only real talent is hitting batting-practice fastballs over the fence.

Find the Right Players

The parallels between sports and the rest of the business world are not difficult to see. Data are already giving companies better insight into job candidates as well as their existing workforces, helping orgs identify best practices, best talent fits, and areas for improvement.

This last point is a key one. Building a team--in sports or in business--is not just about finding the best players. It's about finding the best person for the particular role you need to fill. Workforce data and analytics can let you see your team holistically and pick out weak areas. That next candidate you consider might not be the one with the most impressive resume, it might be the person who either already has or shows the potential to acquire the (practiced) skill your team is lacking! By using data to mix and match the right talent, your organization can build its own All Star team and get a leg up on the competition.

from Social Business Insights Blog http://ift.tt/1sjkjrQ


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