Performance Assessment

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What Businesses Can Learn From Sports Analytics

In professional sports, some teams are becoming sophisticated in using data to measure team and player performance, sports business and health and injury prevention. Sports teams’ use of analytics has much to teach other managers about alignment, performance improvement and business ecosystems. For instance, teams are beginning to assess performance in context, seeing how teams do with or without a particular player. This “plus/minus” analysis could be a valuable technique for many businesses as well.

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In Sports, It’s Quants Versus Managers

There have been a number of stunning sports upsets that make it clear that the lines are fading between intuition and experience on the one hand, and data and analytics on the other. Where the “gut” instinct of managers and owners once ruled, analytic insights are fast becoming a standard part of the playbook. What’s at stake? Seemingly everything: trophies, revenues, funding and fans, not to mention the sheer thrill of victory. That’s particularly the case in elite professional sports.

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Analyzing Performance in Service Organizations

We can’t always trust our intuition about how employees will perform. Intuition can be misleading, or just plain wrong. So a growing number of savvy service businesses have investigated the use of a sophisticated linear programming technique called DEA, or data envelopment analysis. Authors H. David Sherman and Joe Zhu, who call DEA “balanced benchmarking,” write that the technique helps companies locate best practices not visible through other management methodologies.

Image courtesy of Flickr user zoetnet.

Making Mergers Work

For organizations to achieve the psychological synergies required to realize economic synergies from mergers and acquisitions, executives need to attend to a more complex set of identity issues. These issues define the essence of the entity and give employees a clear answer to the question “Who are we?” and external stakeholders a clear answer to the question “Who are they?” Left unattended, these identity issues will diminish engagement and will affect the performance of the merged entity.

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The Dangers of Untested Assumptions

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Why do established corporations' new ventures often fail? The new issue of Business Insight, MIT Sloan Management Review's collaboration with The Wall Street Journal, includes an interview with Rita Gunther McGrath about problems traditional business planning processes encounter when dealing with uncertain new ventures.

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The controversial performance review

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Are performance reviews passé? At the very least, they are a hot discussion topic  --  judging from reactions to the lead story in this week's edition of Business Insight, which we at SMR produce in collaboration with The Wall Street Journal.

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Avoiding Lemons in M&A Deals

Many deals will fail to generate real value for shareholders of the acquiring company, and a good number will ultimately become wealth-destroying propositions. The fundamental problem lies in two inherent features of many M&As: the acquiring company’s struggle to value the target’s resources and the need for the parties involved to agree on a price. Research identifies three ways to help: selecting an alternative ownership structure, crafting a contractual agreement and utilizing information generated by other markets.

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Developing Versatile Leadership

Leadership consists of opposing strengths, and most leaders have a natural tendency to overdevelop one at the expense of its counterpart. The resulting imbalance diminishes their effectiveness. But leaders who work to guard against such lopsidedness can increase their versatility and their impact.

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