First things first, as my LinkedIn profile will tell you I love Golf, Football, Cricket and to be completely honest pretty much any sport if it grabs my attention and there is an element of excitement and tension.
What is it about sport that can consume us for hours on end be that participating or viewing? Well for me it is the pursuit of excellence and being the best you can be and using whatever tools available to ensure you can do the best you can do. Just look at how professional sports invest in such huge support teams to ensure optimal performance.
When I look at myself I am like a lot of companies, I want to improve but I just do not have the time to invest in finding those 1% gains that when aggregated together make a big difference. I have all the data in my head or on my scorecards or on websites or apps (Love Strava) but I don’t have the time to sit down, analyse, plan and then execute how I am going to improve.
The best in sport generally have or make the time, have access to expertise and the finances to ensure all the information they have is analysed and training plans are put into place to deliver that increase in performance. The likes of Sir Ben Ainslie the multiple Olympic gold medal-winning sailor, Formula 1 teams, professional golfers, professional cycling teams all use mountains of data to seek the 1% gains. Take Team Sky, when they were formed by Sir Dave Brailsford, he was focussed on finding those 1% gains that would deliver titles. This centred around using data to deliver these desired goals. Data helped the team to show how their cyclists had slept. If they slept well, they would perform at a higher level for longer.
Using that data, Team Sky began to change over hotel beds to ensure each rider had their own specific mattress, duvet and pillows to ensure the optimum night’s sleep and thus peak performance. They also looked at every bit of data that the cyclists were producing to seek further performance gains, be that components of the bikes, clothing to diet it was and is an endless pursuit of improvement which evolves continually to this day now under the name of Team Ineos.
Liverpool Football Club (I am a fan so had to slip this in!) have used data to change how they recruit their future signings, no longer do they solely rely on a scout who has watched the player for months and recommends said player to a manager, they now look forensically into every aspect of the prospective new player's performance, life and personality traits, will they fit into the way LFC plays, will they fit into the changing room? Wise considering the sums paid nowadays. All premier league clubs use data to tailor how each player prepares, recovers and refuels their bodies so to perform at the maximum levels for longer.
The ECB who manage the England cricket teams have been using data and data analysts since the turn of the millennium and in that time, they have reached the pinnacle of all 3 formats of the men’s game. You now see images of players sitting behind laptops or with tablets in their hands going through data rather than staring out onto the field of play. It could be a batsman who is looking at the opposition bowlers typical lengths or habits against their specific style of play or a bowler looking at the typical way an oppositions batsman gets out or where to bowl or not bowl to them. That data is there to ensure when they go and perform their skill they are as prepared as they can be both mentally and physically.
What’s this got to do with LinkedIn and business I hear you ask? It is simple, not enough businesses are using all the data they have. Most likely they will be scratching the surface of the insights that they are gleaning from the data they have. They will have multiple systems with silos of data and no easy means to compare and contrast all of these data streams. The final failure is that this data once collected and converted and ready to consume is obsolete, everything has changed and you are now making decisions with inaccurate data! In sport, they work with accurate consolidated data to ensure when they make a decision it is with facts and considered.
Too often I see companies that are stuck in the rut, running the same excel or similar static reports, getting the same results and standing still. They are not seeking to use what they have within their systems to deliver those 1% gains in performance, profitability, employee or customer satisfaction. Repeatedly I hear the main reason being ‘we are quite happy with how we do it thank you’. ‘We know what we want, and our current reports deliver that’. What many of these companies miss are the new trends that are starting to appear within their data sets.
Often this is just down to the frequency of when a report is run and often that is because it is time-consuming for someone. Sport is open to change and new insights, if it gets them an advantage then it is worth considering is sports mantra. Not only that, but it also allows them to quickly disregard something based on fact, a considered decision that allows them to stay focussed on those 1% gains.
To summarise, accurate data is powerful and profitable when used effectively, I ask the readers of this blog to consider whether they are running their company, department or team as effectively as the sports team or person they follow? If you want to find out more about the topics I have covered in this blog, please feel free to contact me or schedule a chat using the links below.
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