What Businesses Can Learn from Sports Analytics

Team Management

Understanding the nature of teams and team management, what can you learn from sports teams?

Being insightful of the nature of teams and team management, it is possible to learn from team sports. Some of the key lessons to learn from team sports encompass aspects such as competitiveness and team spirit. At all times, teams in sports strive to remain competitive. This is not only internally amongst the players trying to play in different positions, but also externally against other rival teams. This indicates that employees within the organization should always endeavor to be at their best, learn, grow and develop. This not only enables them to develop into higher ranked positions, but is also beneficial for the organization at large. The team spirit element is another lesson that we can learn from teams. For a team to win, it necessitates a team effort, right from the first minute of the game to the last. This encompasses the individual and combined efforts of the players and their essence to always play to win (Keidel, 1984).

According to Davenport (2014), with respect to team management, one key aspect of learning is the means of measuring which team members facilitate the effectiveness and success of a group or team. It is referred to as plus/minus examination and it takes into account analyzing not only individual performance, but also performance in the context of how a team functions with the inclusion of an individual and how it does not. This is largely done in sports where teams are examined on how they perform with the inclusion of certain players or through the use of various formations. A fundamental aspect pointed out by Davenport (2014) is that even though a certain player does not bring about remarkable individual statistics, he or she may still be instrumental in a game if the team has a tendency of performing much better when playing. In translation, it implies that even when the performance of an employee is wanting, the employee might still be vital in the team, if it effectively undertakes tasks with the employee’s inclusion.

Burnes and O’Donnell (2011) indicate that some of the most important lessons that can be learnt from sports teams and team management include staff development as well as the capacity to embrace and bring about change. Sports teams compete in tournaments and competitions from one season to the next. In each new season, some of the existing players are traded to other teams and new players brought in. This shows that change is an inevitable aspect in sports team. Yet, every season teams come up with strategies on managing and developing such players to generate their effectiveness. In the same manner, organizations are bound to face change and therefore have to find ways of espousing organizational change. In addition, sports teams have academies and youth players that are part of the team. Such teams incessantly train and educate such young players to ensure that they grow and develop. This staff development is another lesson that we can learn. Personnel should constantly be taught and educated to embrace change and ensure that the organization does not become obsolete (Burnes and O’Donnell, 2011).

What lessons might you be able to include in your work setting?

There are lessons that might be included in the work environment. One of the lessons encompasses combined accountability. For any sports team to excel, all players have to work together in order to win games, which are short-term goals and tournaments or championships, which are long-term goals. Therefore, within the work environment, a key lesson to apply is to have mutual accountability and a clear sense of understanding for each of the team member’s responsibilities to the team in addition to individual obligations. Another vital lesson that can be applicable in the work setting is having diversity. It is imperative to note that a team consists of different players who have various sets of expertise in their various positions. For instance, in football, a defender has the skill and specialty of defending, the goalkeeper with goal keeping and the striker plays the role of attacking and scoring goals. Therefore, within the workplace, it is necessary to have a diverse range of expertise and proficiency that complements other team members (Davenport, 2014).

Another lesson that can be applied in the workplace is the significance of teamwork. In order for sports teams to succeed and dominate their respective tournaments, a key contributing factor encompasses the collaboration that exists between the players. No individual player is able to play all positions and win the game. For instance, in football, the goalkeeper relies on the defenders to have a formidable defensive game play. This is applicable in the workplace in the sense that there is a need to cultivate and encourage interdependence and trust between members. Therefore, it is necessary for managers within the organization to trust that their subordinates will carry out their assigned tasks in the appropriate way. Similarly, employees have to work in collaboration and in tandem with each other to achieve both the short-term and the long-term objectives (Keidel, 1984).

A lesson to be included in the workplace is the need for constant evaluation and appraisal. Sports teams constantly assess the performance of every player in every match. Such performances are what determine whether a player ought to play in the following match, whether they should be sold and whether there is a need to obtain new players for various positions. Taking this into consideration, there is a considerable need to constantly evaluate the performance of employees (Brown and Heywood, 2005). This is because when carried out properly, regular employee performance reviews can augment individual self-confidence and also entrench the association between the managers and subordinates. In addition, it helps to ascertain any developmental needs. More so, it can shed a light on various areas where the organization is lacking and necessitates improvement (Furnham, 2005).

Change management is another lesson that can be incorporated in the work setting. Similar to teams, organizations are bound to experience and undergo change. Change management is the methodical way and application of knowledge, tools and resources to embrace and cope with change. It takes into account delineating and espousing corporate strategies, structures, processes and technologies to deal with changes in external situations and the business setting (Society for Human Resource Management, 2012). In addition, teams are naturally competitive entities. This can be applicable to the workplace. It is imperative for the organization to encourage healthy competition internally and also obtain a competitive edge externally against rival organizations.

What resources assist you in the development of this strategy?

There are various resources that might be beneficial in the development of the strategy for applying sports team management lessons to the work setting. One important resource is the use of performance management tools. Performance appraisal and management are beneficial for evaluation and development. In particular, these resources will function as a foundation for employing new personnel, training and developing prevailing personnel, streamlining workflow and also motivating the workforce (Furnham, 2005). The organization will also necessitate resources in the form of different communication channels. These channels are the means via which individuals within the entity communicate. Such channels are imperative because utilizing unfitting communication channels can give rise to adverse impact on the completion of different tasks. These channels can include emails, intranet, and social media platforms. Other channels include organizational policies, notices, memos, and announcements as well as letters. Face-to-face communication also facilitates communication within the organization (Munodawafa, 2008). Additional resources needed for competition include SWOT analysis, Porter’s Five Forces and also internal and external environmental analysis. These make it possible to understand the status of the organization both internally and externally, ascertain the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats it faces.

What Might You Offer as Advice to a Newly Forming Team?

Various resources might be of assistance in the development of this particular strategy.

Taking these aspects into consideration, there are various bits and pieces of advice that I may offer to a newly forming team. To begin with, getting new team members to work together efficaciously is not a simply task. Newly forming teams disregard or rush over the basics of team building to attaining objectives, and this leads to their downfall earlier on. According to O’Hara (2014), one of the priorities ought to be getting the team members to know each other. Practically, this might imply having a retreat or having team-building exercises. Secondly, it is imperative for every team member to know what role they have to play, both individually and collectively. Therefore, it is imperative for the team’s vision and values to be communicated to every member. The team leader should also define expectations and delineate processes. Devoid of this, the leader runs the risk of creating a setting where members of the team have a sense of exclusion, uncertainty and unwillingness to participate.

Another important advice for a newly forming team is to set ambitious, but attainable goals with the input of the team. In particular, by setting these goals at an earlier period, the decision making of the team will be considerably clearer and more efficacious. Communication is also imperative. Irrespective of the communication approach employed, it is necessary to do as much as possible to communicate to team members. As pointed out by O’Hara (2014), it is rare to find instances where team members complain of over communication. More so, better communication in the early period will be beneficial in evading misunderstandings and poor outcomes later on (O’Hara, 2014).


Brown, M., & Heywood, J. S. (2005). Performance appraisal systems: determinants and change. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 43(4), 659-6.

Davenport, T. H. (2014). What Businesses Can Learn from Sports Analytics. MIT Sloan Review. Retrieved from: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/what-businesses-can-learn-from-sports-analytics/

Furnham, A. (2005). Performance appraisal systems. In the People Business (pp. 127-129). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Keidel, R. W. (1984). Baseball, football, and basketball: Models for business. Organizational Dynamics, 12(3), 5-18.

Munodawafa, D. (2008). Communication: concepts, practice and challenges. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

O’Hara, C. (2014). What New Team Leaders Should Do First? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2014/09/what-new-team-leaders-should-do-first

Society for Human Resource Management. (2012). Managing Organizational Change. Retrieved from: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/managingorganizationalchange.aspx

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