‘Sabermetrics.’ The word conjures secrets that could take a business from worst to first. Billy Beane of baseball’s Oakland A’s did exactly that when he created sabermetrics, baseball’s first-ever economics-focused analysis of player performance value. The whole story was captured in Ken Lewis’ bestselling Moneyball. It garnered enough attention to become a Brad Pitt movie. So why not try Moneyball in the philanthropic sector?
Nonprofit consultant Paul Connolly delivered the noteworthy conclusion that the “emergent journey matters far more than the metrics.” When you’re in the business of people helping people, numbers are one way to look at things, but the insights of our shared experience are something altogether more complex and richer than numbers ever can be.
Baseball has been statistically obsessed since the 19th century, but only found a way to leverage statistics for their transformative power in the 21st century. And today it appears that power was fleeting. In the end it may be that Beane’s table of success was set by statistics, but the feast was set on the table thanks to player chemistry, teamwork and an organization galvanized toward proving its potential. This is more likely the lesson worth keeping in mind.