Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Math Problem

I enjoyed this article by Jonah Lehrer on Grantland. Lehrer argues that as the influence of sabremetrics (aka advanced statistical analysis) grows, sports teams may be relying too heavily on statistics. To a large extent the recent focus on statistical analysis has improved decision-making in sports. However, the temptation now facing general managers is to quantify EVERYTHING. The reality is that not every variable is quantifiable and that teams are more than just the sum of their parts.

I would argue that people in business fall prey to this temptation as well. We focus only on the hard numbers - productivity, profit margin, operating efficiency, attendance, etc. - at the expense of qualitative observations that can make a difference. The worst leaders treat their employees as little more than math problems - "What variable x can be manipulated to increase the output y?" The best leaders remember, as Lehrer writes, "Not everything that matters can be measured."

Check out Jonah Lehrer's article here.

- Joel

No comments: