Where do we rank?
In February, ESPN released a feature titled The Great Analytics Rankings. In it they rated every major US sports franchise on its “analytics staff, its buy-in from execs and coaches, its investment in biometric data and how much its approach is predicated on analytics,” producing a top 10, bottom 10 and headline assessment of each team.
At a professional sports club it would be difficult to perform a similarly comprehensive overview of the competition, but there are enough rumours and ongoing knowledge exchange to at least hazard a guess.
So grab a flipchart and pen and title the page with an area of operations. It might be “Analytics”, but it could easily be “Recruitment”, “Youth Development”, “Succession Planning” or “Fan Engagement”. Then, start to make a list – maybe of clubs in your league, country, or of teams you consider to be direct competition – from top to bottom, the best to the worst in that area. Identify where your team ranks, and how far ahead a theoretical “perfect club” would be.
It might look something like this:
In this fictitious example, we are furthest behind the top-ranked teams in the area of medical, but the biggest industry opportunity is in analytics, given that the best club (Club A) is far from having the theoretical perfect operation in this area. In youth development, despite being one of the industry leaders, there’s still plenty of headroom for even the best teams to improve.
Given finite resources, the choice then becomes:
- should we attempt catch up with our competitors by improving in areas where we are weak? Or
- should we attempt to gain a competitive advantage by improving in areas where our competitors are weak?
There is, of course, no correct answer – different areas will also have different and unpredictable levels of impact on first-team performance – but at the very least this exercise can help us understand if we’re neglecting areas where the marginal gains could be massive, or overspending in areas where each extra dollar has a near-negligible effect.
Perhaps even pin the ranking to the office wall, and see where you lie in six months time.