The World Series starts today, which makes this something of a holiday week in my house. You see, I love baseball. Actually, “love” may be an understatement. I watch dozens of games every year. And one thing I’ve learned about baseball is that, like business, what you see isn’t always what’s real. What do I mean? Let’s take a look.
“One absolutely cannot tell, by watching, the difference between a .300 hitter [one who gets a hit 3 times in every 10 at-bats; in other words, a star player] and a .275 hitter. The difference is one hit every two weeks.”
To really know how a player – or your business – is doing, you’ve got to rely on measures and metrics, statistics that tell the real story of what’s going on. People like Kevin Hillstrom and Avinash Kaushik do a great job of looking at business statistics. And in baseball, the name to know is Bill James.
I’m reading one of James’ older books – if you’re curious, it’s called “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame” – and in it, he writes the most remarkable passage:
“When a statistic is given… you need to submit it to a few little tests…
- Is that true?
- What does it mean?
- Is it relevant to the discussion?
- How is it relevant to the discussion?
- Is it biased for any reason?
- What does it indicate?
- What does it prove?”
I immediately thought of it as James’ own version of my 7 keys to successful web metrics. More and more, teams in baseball are asking these types of questions about their players and their metrics. And that’s what’s helping them get to the World Series.
And it made me wonder, “Do you look at your business metrics with the same critical eye Bill James uses to evaluate grown men playing a little boy’s game?”
Admittedly, it’s not likely to get you to the World Series. But it can definitely help you win more business.
What do you think? Is James missing any key points? Is what happens on a baseball diamond irrelevant to what happens in the business world? I’d love to hear what you think. Let us all know in the comments.
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analytics, Avinash Kaushik, continuous improvement, douglas hubbard, E-commerce, e-commerce, e-marketing, ecommerce, goal setting, Google Analytics, how to measure anything, measurement, metrics, performance