109. Astroball: Taking Lessons from the Analytical Champs

Baseball’s Begrudging Adoption of Analytics

Since the book Moneyball was published in 2003, all professional sports have embraced analytics, but none more than baseball.

Baseball executives initially hated the book Moneyball because it made them look incompetent. Then, one-by-one teams started to experiment with analytics; in particular, two teams with new owners who had gotten rich using analytics elsewhere.

Today, all professional baseball teams have large analytics departments, and most coaches and players make analytically-based decisions for every pitch on both offense and defense. Moneyball is no longer innovative; it’s a common industry language. However, this is not the case for distributors who are using customer and SKU profitability analytics!

In a new book, Astroball, published in July 2018, author Ben Reiter recounts how analytics eventually swept through baseball.

A Business Analytics Case Study in Disguise

Whether you know or care about baseball or not, you should read Astroball.  Or, at least skim through it for tips on how to implement big analytical insights over natural human resistance and create a growth mindset culture.

The author successfully predicted in 2014 that the league’s worst team, the Houston Astros (“Lastros”), would win the World Series in 2017. And, he recounts – with fantastic writing – how the organization did it with analytics. (Baseball fans will double-love the book!)

Some Successful Astro Implementation Guidelines:

Distributors can take lessons from the Houston Astros:

  1. The use of Big Data must be guided by smart theories. (They exist, borrow them!)
  2. Once new and/or shocking insights are discovered, courageous, prudent, persistent experiments must be done. (Borrow these too!)
  3. These steps won’t be done by veterans pontificating conventional wisdom. An investment must be made in new talent.
  4. Perform successful experiments in one organizational silo (or branch) at a time.
  5. Successes in one silo won’t be readily copied by the rest, and some of the most resistant folks may have to go.
  6. You will need new coaching to educate everyone on the benefits of better statistical decision-making.
  7. If competitors copy you, then make your capability for continuous statistical learning and implementation your sustainable edge.

For my analytics clients who want more, I’ve created an AstroBall Discussion Questions document.

I’ve also inked a document detailing a general path forward for implementing best customer-profitability practices. It’s called The Core Renewal Roadmap.

Request one or both for free by email to bruce@merrifield.com.

And, please check out the details for my forthcoming one-day-seminar roadshow series at: www.merrifieldact2.com.

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