Can Fantasy Baseball Help You Run Your Organization?
Today’s blog post is by Nathan Anderson, the Client Success Manager here at Patron Technology.
I play fantasy baseball.
If you’re not familiar with fantasy sports, here’s the most typical way to play: You join a league with other players, and each participant gets to select a “team” from the entire professional player pool through a draft system. When the real season starts, you play against one other team in your league on a weekly basis. In order to win, you must have a collection of players that compile better real-life stats than the team you’re playing. It’s– well, it’s supremely dorky, but hopefully you get the idea.
This year I was more prepared for my season than ever before. I had spreadsheets containing all of last year’s data and trends. I used a color coding system (it required a legend) to tell me the rankings of 250 baseball players, broken down by position and skill set. I went through three mock drafts to simulate what I thought others would do based on aggregate rankings from popular fantasy baseball websites. Most of the people I play with just parrot those rankings, and should someone else choose the player they want in the middle of their draft they go by “gut feel” to pick another.
That wasn’t me. I had my data to rely on. I was going to win the league.
That was in April. But by the time September came around, not only did I not win my league, I didn’t even make the playoffs. I had a 60 percent chance of doing so in April and yet… what happened?
In those super-confident moments following my draft I forgot one thing: sports are played by human beings.
If a sports nerd put 100 hours of research into dissecting the Super Bowl, they could still pick the wrong team, while my mother could potentially pick the winner with this infallible logic: “The Steelers? … They sound dangerous — I don’t like stealing. I’ll take the Packers.”
Sports Nerd: 0
My Mom: 1
If I isolate this result, it looks like I wasted my time doing homework, but the truth is I would do it all the same way again. Why? Because it’s all about next year.
Sure, I could tell you about all of the injuries, the statistical anomalies, and all of the other breaks that didn’t go my way, but doing so would mask this point: I can actually tell you all of those things. Those “things” are explanations, and they are all good data that I can take into next year’s draft.
If the guy who won the league this year doesn’t use the information he garnered throughout the season, he’s not going to have an advantage going into next year. Maybe he’ll get lucky again, but he shouldn’t take that chance. You might be saying, “But if I do all this work and I still fail, didn’t I have crummy data? Shouldn’t I just trust my gut and my intellect?”
I’ve been playing fantasy baseball for six years. I’ve won or placed in the top three of my leagues more often than I have not. I attribute this success to data devotion.
I also work with arts organizations every day, and it’s now obvious to me that data awareness has to become a priority. Keep track of every decision you make. If you have a CRM system, use it. Take note of every outcome, good or bad. Investigate and notice why people renew or don’t renew and why they complain (about everything from the seat cushions to the hand soap in the restroom), and track their reasons. If you selected a designer for your season brochure that you thought was perfect for the job, but working with them proved difficult or the end result was not what you wanted, pinpoint the reasons why and move on to the next choice you have to make.
If you do this consistently you’ll begin to discover patterns, and then, eventually, you’ll make winning decisions more often than not. Resist the temptation to reject collecting or using data because it takes work or because sometimes your “gut calls” are actually right.
The great thing about data is it’s never wrong. It’s information. It just is. Get as much of it as you can: formulate your opinions, and trust that you’re more prepared to make smart choices because of it.
You’re not going to win every decision you make (My Mom: 1, Sports Nerd: 0), but if you become more data driven, you will win the decision-making process 100 percent of the time.