If the idea of using metrics and statistics to gain a competitive advantage has been around for decades, why does this concept remain so under-utilized by so many organizations?

Maybe more business owners and managers need to look to the world of sports for evidence that it works.  The NCAA basketball tournament just finished last night.  My bracket did pretty well this year, earning me the top spot in our small pool.  When I put my bracket together almost a month ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the website’s ability to quickly compare teams on the strength of their schedules, points per game, points allowed, and other key data.  And, this was just for the selection of my brackets, a friendly competition for which I had a total of $3 at risk.

One of my favorite college teams in recent years is the Butler Bulldogs and their coach Brad Stevens.  It’s well-known that Stevens is into statistical research.  Maybe it’s his economics degree or his corporate experience prior to coaching.  Maybe it’s just his love of the game and a drive to master his sport as a coach.  Whatever it is, Stevens understands the value of being able to communicate, influence, and anticipate what is happening with his team and their opponent before, during, and after a game.

In December 2010, Stevens told his team they were giving up a 46% defensive field goal percentage.  He said that a decrease of three baskets per game would be 40%, putting them in the top 20 in the country and positioning them for a tournament bid.  In one statement, Stevens communicated the past results, began to influence his team’s thinking, and tried to anticipate what was needed to get into the tournament three months later.

In 2012, Stevens became the first college coach to hire someone solely for statistical research. This 22-year-old Duke graduate with a degree in statistics helps Stevens analyze their upcoming games, keeps stats during each game, and examines the results afterwards.

Stevens was the second youngest head coach in the history of the NCAA at a school without a strong basketball tradition.  And yet, after a loss to Butler, legendary coach Bobby Knight was quoted as saying, “I wish we played as smart as they do.”

Your company may not be the biggest; your products may not be household names; your people may not be the most experienced; and you may not be a leader in your industry.  But, you can be an intelligentBusiness™ by using data, metrics, and statistics to create a competitive advantage by developing your own C.I.A. Profile™ that answers three critical questions:

  1. What past results must we Communicate?™
  2. What current decisions should we Influence?™
  3. What future opportunities can we Anticipate?™

In the game of basketball, business, or life, knowledge creates an advantage. An advantage allows you to capture opportunities your competitors can’t and won’t.

Communicate. Influence. Anticipate.®

Question: What other examples do you see where numbers, stats, and metrics are used to create an advantage or to make a difference?