Baseball and business need metrics to hit a home run
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As a young girl living in New York, I’ve always been fascinated by baseball. I wasn’t interested in playing baseball, but I was interested in managing the baseball team.
My fondness for baseball came from watching games at Yankee Stadium. From the hot dog stands to the cotton candy to the screaming fans, it was always an exciting time. The game showed me that anything is possible if you believe in your dreams. Little did I know that to believe in your dreams, you also had to develop the right team, support the right management and analyze the right data. Decades later, I think running a baseball team is very similar to running a small business team. It takes more than hitting the ball to win the World Series. It takes a group of dedicated players.
The game of baseball has a long list of performance data that helps determine the best strategy to play to win. The most successful baseball managers these days track the stats of every baseball player. Yet I’ve seen many small businesses give up capturing or analyzing data only to see the negative impact of bad metrics. The simplest rule to follow in baseball and business is: what gets measured gets better.
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Baseball is a game of trade metrics that focuses on measuring a team’s best performance. In baseball, fans can view scorecards and participate in instant review of real-time data points. Scoreboards show the name of each team member and the number of runs, hits and errors completed in each inning.
The baseball business covers similar Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track their progress against their operational goals. Think about it. Batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is one of several metrics used to measure the number of times a player hits the ball during play.
Similarly, small businesses follow sales tips that measure each salesperson’s daily performance. Sales boards track each employee, the number of leads received, the number of leads closed, and they rate each employee to determine overall performance. In business, sales returns help gauge the efficiency of the business based on the amount of profit earned from a sales transaction. Even if you see business as a game of life, you still need to test and measure to get optimal results.
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So how would I prepare if I had a chance to manage the Yankees, even briefly? Simple.
I would focus first on analyzing operational data on each batter.
I would surround myself with experts and build a strong team of performance analysts who could help guide my decision-making process.
Although I’m not a baseball expert, I think having someone on the outside watching your team’s performance helps companies see things differently and can lead to better decisions. The goal is to look at all angles of a situation, not a particular data point or metric.
The reality is that business and baseball decisions often depend on multiple data points, so studying patterns from different angles reduces the tunnel vision that can develop because we’re too close to the storyline. I doubt I’ll ever manage the Yankees, but I’m still using baseball learnings to hit better home runs in my trading career. You should too.