Astroball > Moneyball

Regular readers know that we’ve often covered the limits of decision models, the importance of chemistry, and what makes a team work well together.  And that we’re baseball fans (especially of our Rays). A recent review of “Astroball” in The Wall Street Journal. covers that same ground with the terrific story of the 2017 World Series champs.  Astros GM Jeff Luhnow figured out how to get scouting and analytics to work together and … Continue reading

New addition to The Library in St. Pete

The latest addition to The Library in St. Pete is Thinking in Bets – Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts,  authored by Annie Duke, the professional poker player who began her career when, at age 26, she quit the cognitive-psychology doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania.  The Wall Street Journal review of her book calls it “the dissertation she never got around to finishing.” Ms. Duke writes that “our … Continue reading

The Library in St.Pete

This is a collection of books that we routinely recommend to friends, colleagues, and the executives of our portfolio companies. DECISION MAKING Everything is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer – Duncan Watts Drawing on the latest scientific research, along with a wealth of historical and contemporary examples, Watts shows how common sense reasoning and history conspire to mislead us into believing that we understand more about the world of … Continue reading

The Ultimate October Blueprint

Our regular readers know that we often cogitate over the roles both skill and luck play in sports and business.  The eve of the baseball postseason feels like a good time to revisit the subject. Especially since we’ve found new data, even in an admittedly a small sample size. In The Ultimate October Blueprint, David Schoenfield studies the past 5 post seasons (“when the strike zone started increasing in size and offense began to … Continue reading

Just waves of confirmation bias?

We recently came across another excellent article on data, decision-making, and cognitive biases.  It’s a story about Kristaps Porzingis , a 7’1″ 19-year-old, playing in Liga ACB, perhaps the second-best basketball league in the world.  He’s “the type of prospect that has historically torn coaching staffs and front offices apart” as they try to assess his NBA bona fides before the draft. All draft picks are crapshoots, but some feel like crappier shots than … Continue reading

March Madness and the availability heurisitic

(Editor’s note:  This is a slightly modified re-print of a popular piece we published in April 2013.  Our readers enjoy the subject of how to improve their decision making skills, especially when sports can provide the context.) Decision making and cognitive biases are common themes here at NVSE.  We’ve written about good board decisions, how the popularity of the Mona Lisa is based on circumstance rather than inherent artistic qualities, how the design of … Continue reading

Untangling skill and luck in sports and business, redux

We’ve come across another good piece on decision-making and the limits of decision models.   In The Great Analytics Rankings, ESPN “unleashed (its) experts and an army of researchers” to look across the four major sports and assess each of the 122 professional teams on how much of their approach is predicated on analytics. They ranked teams both within each sport and across the entire field of 122, and then took a look at the sport with … Continue reading

Big Data in The Big D back in the Day

Before there was Moneyball, there was a little expansion football team in Dallas who invented Big Data (in sports) on their way to 20 consecutive winning seasons and 5 of the first XIII Super Bowls.  They managed to win just 2 of those 5, losing the others by 3, 4, and 4 points. Yet even those losses serve as evidence in support of the idea of “Moneyball:”  Super Bowl V was so error-filled … Continue reading

It’s unwise to rely on one’s instincts to decide when to rely on one’s instincts, redux

We’ve written frequently on the subject of cognitive biases and how to design decision making processes to account for them.  A good process will entail astute management of the social, political and emotional aspects of decision making and address or at least understand the underlying biases of the participants. We recently came across this piece in the archives at HBS Working Knowledge which introduces research on “fundamental attribution bias”  (a.k.a. snap … Continue reading

Conquered but not tamed – team effectiveness at Mt. Everest

61 years ago, on May 29, 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, arriving just before noon after spending the night high on the mountain. The anniversary brings to mind another May (1996) expedition on Everest which ended in deadly disaster.  The details of what went wrong in that May 43 years after Hillary and Norgay’s triumph … Continue reading

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