Daryl Morey for Harvard Business Review: Success Comes From Better Data, Not Better Analysis

August 8th, 2011

Harvard Business Review
by Daryl Morey
August 8, 2011

One of the maxims of being a leader is to make yourself replaceable. I can’t remember what business guru said it, likely because they lost their job before becoming famous.

Like a lot of people, working to make myself replaceable is not an easy concept for me. I have spent the majority of my life trying to make myself irreplaceable as an analyst/decision maker since spending all of 2nd grade analyzing the optimal All Star Baseball spin card lineup (hint: leading off George Sisler was the key).

As much as I don’t want to admit it, however, the age of the irreplaceable analyst no longer exists, if it ever did. From my vantage point as GM of the Houston Rockets and the co-chair of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, I see a world teeming with really good analysts. Fresh analytical faces are minted each year and sports teams are hiring them in larger numbers. If talented analysts are becoming plentiful, however, then it follows that analysts cannot be the key to creating a consistent winner, as a sustainable competitive edge requires that you have something valuable AND irreplaceable. If better analysts won’t create an edge, however, what will?

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