Power to the People: Why Billy Beane Has Never Won the World Series

I know what you’re thinking: Another sports analogy? But hear me out – this one is near and dear to my heart.

Look, I love metrics. Metrics have helped me run my business, made me more efficient and added scale to my company. I love them. In particular, I love Billy Beane’s approach to baseball stats: focusing on nontraditional statistics like on-base percentage versus straight batting average. I believe his methodology translates well to lead generation: Love metrics, but make sure you’re focusing on the right ones.

On the other hand, we can’t forget one core issue: people, not computers, win the World Series. Billy’s process keeps his team in the running every year, but he has never won the World Series. This is interesting from a business-building perspective. I used to say, “Billy Beane has never won the World Series,” as we built Tippit and we made gut decisions that ran counter to the data. It became a part of my lexicon.

I heard two quotes over the last couple of months that retriggered this thought process:

  • “Don’t forget that all these tools are great, but you need great people to be successful.”
    – Rich Blakeman, sales vice president of Miller Heiman, speaking at the Sales 2.0 conference.
    When he said this, all I could think was, Billy Beane has never won the World Series.
  • “The way to pick the winner of the NCAA basketball tournament is … what team has the most future NBA players.”
    -Skip Bayless, ESPN morning show commentator.
    This was interesting to me. In college basketball, coaches are the stars and are portrayed as “master strategists.” But at the end of the day, the team with the best players wins. Yes, they are supported by a highly effective system (process) – but to win the big one, your players have to execute.

For all the metrics and processes a colleague or I put in place, I am reminded all the time that that the data is there to help make great decisions – decisions that need to be made by people who then need to go execute them. People have to make gutsy calls, decisions with the data and decisions DESPITE the data. They alsy have to execute on a daily basis, outwork competitors and more. Metrics alone simply can’t do that. Power to the people!

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Craig, this is a great post, and I missed it the first time as I started subscribing to your blog after you originally posted it. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it’s easy to get “paralysis from analysis.”

    I recently wrote a similar article about what we in sales and sales management can learn from Michael Phelps – that in a world of metrics, software, and processes, sometimes it just comes down to a good attitude. If you’re interested, here’s a link: http://www.precallpro.com/blog/bid/18830/37-and-Counting-and-What-it-Means-in-Sales

    Keep up the good work, and I look forward to reading more!