Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors, and the power of analytics at work — Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

From MIT Sloan Management Review

Whether or not their 2016 season ends with a second consecutive NBA championship, the Golden State Warriors are making Silicon Valley proud. They broke the record for regular season wins with 73. They are headlined by Stephen Curry, the dynamic and eminently likeable two-time MVP. They have established themselves among the league’s elite franchises.

Like the “unicorns” along Highway 101, the Warriors have done it all with a deep organizational commitment to data-driven decision making – both on the court and as a business. The three-pointers Steph and running mate Klay Thompson hoist seemingly without abandon are actually grounded in troves of evidence supporting the shot’s relative value. Meanwhile, the business side of the organization is leveraging fan data to more effectively drive ticket, sponsorship, and merchandise revenue.

The Warriors are not the only team pioneering the analytics revolution in sports. Organizations across an increasing number of sports and levels (professional, college, and high school) are capitalizing on data to gain a competitive edge. Indeed, few industries have implemented data-driven decision making as successfully as sports.

What learnings from the sports analytics revolution are applicable to the broader management community? For those seeking to become more data-driven in approach, consider the following:

Adopt a measured mindset. In the simplest of terms, analytics refers to quantitative tools that help organizations find, interpret, and use data to make better decisions. Sports teams understand that other factors such as previous experience and even gut instinct influence the decision-making process. In this context, analytics is a single input, albeit a potentially powerful one.

Read the full post at the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Ben Shields is a Lecturer in Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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