How Great Coaches Scale Analytics Into Actions

Updated: Jul 19, 2019



What do the champion Red Sox, Patriots, Raptors, and Blues all have in common? Sure, they have all made major investments in analytics, but these days, almost all teams have (as with most businesses). The difference is that these teams learned to integrate and scale their analytical findings into their daily coaching practice. Simply put, the best managers are moving analytics from the spreadsheets and dashboards of the front-office analysts down onto the playing field where they can have an actual impact on their teams’ success.


Unfortunately, books like Moneyball gave the false impression that coaching is somehow marginalized by the addition of analysts and analytics to professional sports. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, it is the managers that can translate analytic insights and deliver them in the form of actions to the players who are experiencing the most success.


All teams use analytics to help guide in-game strategy, and managers must clearly communicate that vision to players, whether on the field or in the office. As Red Sox manager Alex Cora said in a recent interview:


“The most important thing is you have to connect. The baseball operations, the analytics department, the medical staff — if they don’t get together, what’s the point? How are we going to filter the information from these departments to the coaches and to the players? If you can’t accomplish that, then you’re in trouble.”


Cora brilliantly distilled down the most important task for the modern manager of any organization employing analytics. Getting information to the players at the right time in a form that they can act on is paramount to success.


This is precisely how Cora changed the analytic culture of the Red Sox, by bringing analytics down from the office as a theoretical thing and making it a practical thing.


We can learn a lot from Cora’s approach and best practices. So how did he do it?


- He hired analytics-literate managers on his staff (players trust analytics when they come from former players who now coach but also understand analytics)

- He developed data-driven action plans for each player for each game

Created an insights-delivery mechanism by developing cards with analytics-based tasks that the players could keep in their hats as cheat sheets


Cora isn’t managing by spreadsheet or making his team decipher reports and dashboards. He augments old-fashioned coaching with analytic insights and easy-to-use tools to scale up his ability to coach his team. This is precisely what is needed in the enterprise.

While most companies have invested in data and analytics, too often they stop short of making it to the “playing field,” remaining in the hands of analysts in the form of complex dashboards and reports. Think about it: How often do people in business really coach in real time? Almost never. What is needed is an “insights delivery” tool for managers to scale up their coaching by delivering custom, data-driven action plans that map back to company KPIs.


Fortunately, in the business world we all have laptops and smartphones, so we do not need to keep paper cheat sheets in our hats giving us data-driven decision making advice. Instead, you can use simple but powerful tools like RelayiQ’s insights delivery platform built right on top of your Tableau dashboards to get information into your team’s hands precisely when they need it. RelayiQ enables real-time feedback and coaching driven directly from your data.


Why not learn from the best coaches in sports and complete the last mile of the analytics journey by delivering prescribed actions to your team starting today? You can start with a free trial of RelayiQ. We are here to make sure you get up and running successfully. It’s a heck of a lot better than buying baseball caps for your entire organization and handing out cardboard cheat sheets!

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