Data analysis, or how the Astros won the World Series

Professional sports teams have always relied on their lifelong experience to make important decisions about players and plays. In recent years, however, they increasingly use sophisticated data analysis to refine their recruitment and gaming strategies.

A good example is the data analysis program that enabled the Houston Astros to switch from the last place in the World Series Baseball League to winning the title in 2017 in just four years. strategic consultant McKinsey explains the details in an article on your company page.

The analysis research had to be done throughout the organization, not just on the workbench, and therefore organizational barriers had to be discarded. It was necessary to adjust behavior so that the changes were logical and permanent.

Search allies "within"

One of the most important factors was to involve people who had no relationship with the entire analysis process and who became part of the daily routine.

If this sounds like you, you will not be surprised that the successes and defeats of the Houston Astros provide valuable lessons for business leaders. In the McKinsey article, Jef Luhnow, the Astros CEO hired by the Texas team in 2011, explains how he uses information based on data analysis to make important decisions.

When he arrived, Luhnow encountered a traditional organization that was always good at localize, attract and develop good players. However, if the manager had to qualify his analytical skills, he would place the Houston Astros in the last five of the rankings.

Must have patience

When asked how he approved the new methodology for all members of the organization, Luhnow explained that it was first and foremost necessary a lot of patience, a factor that is essential in these types of processes.

"We had to let the decision-makers in the field of recruitment use the information to make the right decisions.The most difficult thing was to change the behavior of the coaches and players of Astros and in the minor league It took us three to four years to be satisfied I was lucky to have all the support of my boss, the owner of the team

Luhnow gives a practical example of where the changes were more difficult: "The pitcher makes a launch The ball is hit to where it always has been shortstop, the player who defends between first and second base. Suddenly, the shortstop it is not because the analyst tells us that it should be on the other side of the base. It was very difficult to convince the players. In the second year we were somewhat more insistent, but the infielders and the pitchers again complained so hard that our coaches no longer insisted.

"In the next spring we will share the data with the players, they have to understand why it gave us some benefits, and a young pitcher kept complaining, but one of the experienced pitchers told him that Look, this will help you get more opportunities to have a better career. If you have players who argue for these tools, change the whole equation. "

The importance of knowing how to explain

Another element of Luhnow's strategy was to hire an additional trainer for each level of the minor leagues. The director team found plenty of young players who had played in high school, maybe a year with the minors, and had basic concepts of analysis. They were able to explain why mewe have asked the players certain things and they have ensured that the latter began to trust them.

For Luhnow, data analysis is undoubted a competitive advantage"We are in a zero-sum industry where every benefit you get should have the disadvantage of the other." This is how it works in many industries, in our case the implementation began to take root when our movements became more open and progressive. were.

"It was painful and it took a lot of time, but it will give us an advantage over the next 5-10 years and it will be difficult to imitate for other teams."

Combine data, head and heart

From now on, Houston Astros' strategy will consist of combining data analysis, the head and the heart for making important decisions. Luhnow insists on making it clear that he will always rely on the opinions of their coaches and their talent seekers.

"We have shown that when you combine the information provided by technology and analyzes with the opinions of people, you achieve the best possible result." The core of the case is knowing how to combine them.

According to Luhnow, the future is there
Big data combined with
artificial intelligence: "We are just starting to scratch the surface and now we have information we never dreamed of a few years ago, for the future success of a team, the
development of models all this information will be the key. "