If history has taught us anything, then the line between patterns and fallacies is nearly invisible. In a place where we talk about inventing the future, the patterns (or fallacies) of the past can prove to be counterproductive and create unnecessary biases.
Normally, industry analysts are a talkative, confident bunch, but generally speaking, they are like old fisherman, spinning yarns and telling tales that have become exaggerated through constant retelling.
Recent comments by leading Apple (s aapl) analyst Toni Sacconaghi, however, actually came out of discussions with a very good source: Tim Cook, Apple COO and acting head honcho at Cupertino during Steve Jobs’ medical leave. Not only that, but CFO Pete Oppenheimer and head of marketing Phil Schiller were there, too.
Which is why this time, when he says Apple is likely still working toward producing a netbook, I didn’t just roll my eyes and go about turning my Eee PC into a hackintosh. Not that Sacconaghi provided any firm details, just the tantalizing info that Cook “hinted” that Apple was still turning over “ideas” surrounding a netbook. Not a lot to build hope on, but better than the usual “predictions” based on “market trends.”
Read More about Analyst Talks Apple Netbook, iPhones; Has Actual Source for Once
If you’re a major league baseball fan, you’ve probably read “Moneyball,” the best-selling book by journalist Michael Lewis chronicling the successful statistics-driven management of Oakland Athletics General Manager, Billy Beane.
Baseball has long been a game of stats, but Beane’s philosophy gave the tradition a twist: Instead of tracking a player’s batting average or runs batted in, Beane tracked a player’s on base percentage. The unorthodox approach helped Beane build the A’s into a remarkably efficient team that has reached the American League playoffs five times in eight years with a payroll that’s consistently near the bottom third of all 30 MLB teams ($78.5 million in 2007).
Plenty of corporate executives have tried to apply Beane’s tactics to their own operations. NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson did one better: In 2007 he invited Billy Beane to join NetSuite’s board of directors. [digg=http://digg.com/business_finance/What_Startups_Can_Learn_From_Moneyball]
Nelson says tracking nonstandard performance stats has helped improve the efficiency of NetSuite’s sales process. Most CEOs track their marketing spend, lead generations and closed contracts independently; NetSuite tracks which marketing plans (players) turn into leads (walk ons) and which leads convert to sales (runs). If improving your company’s sales efficiency is the aim, then “walk ons” — or how you get to the sale — is the key stat, just as in baseball. Below Nelson offers a few tips from Beane’s play book to get you started “managing by the numbers.”