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Baseball and Business Need Metrics to Hit a Home Run

A similar focus on metrics can help both industries assess how to win the game.

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As a young girl living in New York, I was always fascinated with baseball. I wasn't interested in playing baseball, but I was interested in managing the baseball team.

My fondness for baseball came from attending games at Yankee Stadium. From the hot dog stands, to the cotton candy, to the fans screaming, it was always an exciting time. The game showed me that everything is possible if you believe in your dreams. I didn't realize that to believe in your dreams, you also need to develop the right team, support the proper management and analyze the correct data. Decades later, I think managing a baseball team is very similar to managing 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 an extensive list of performance data that helps determine the best strategy for playing to win. Most successful baseball managers these days track metrics for each baseball player. Yet, I have witnessed many small business companies forgo capturing or analyzing data only to see the negative impact of poor measurements. The most straightforward rule to follow in baseball and business is: What gets measured gets improved.

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Baseball is a game of business metrics that focuses on measuring a team's best performances. In baseball, fans can see the scoreboards and participate in the moment-by-moment review of real-time data points. The scoreboards showcase each team member's name and how many runs, hits and errors are completed in each inning.

The business of baseball covers similar Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) to track their progress against their operational goals. Think about it. Batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is one of many metrics used to measure how many times a player hits the ball during play.

Similarly, small businesses track sales boards that measure each salesperson's daily performance. Sales boards track each employee, the number of leads received, the number of closed leads, and they score each employee to determine overall performance. In business, returns on sales help assess business efficiency 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 for optimal results.

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So how would I prepare if I had a chance to manage the Yankees, even just briefly? Simple.

I would first focus on analyzing the operational data on each batter.

I would surround myself with experts and build a strong team of performance analysts that can help guide my decision process.

While I am not an expert baseball manager, I believe having someone from the outside viewing your team's performance helps companies see things differently and can lead to making better decisions. The goal is to review all angles of a situation and not one particular data point or metric.

The reality is that business and baseball decisions often hinge on multiple data points, so studying patterns from different perspectives reduces tunnel vision that may creep up because we are too close to the scenario. I doubt I will ever get to manage the Yankees, but I still use the learnings of baseball to hit better home runs in my business career. You should too.

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