During the past weeks, the world was focused on the Football World Cup. A lot of people were trying to predict the results of this championship. Based on analytics and results of teams during the past 4 years, several organization such as Goldman Sachs or the Fifa tried to predict who will be the 16 best teams of the championship. The funny part is that except a few people, none of these organizations were able to give more than 50% of right answers. Those errors are due to 3 major problems that were not handle in those predictive models.
1. The whole is not equal to the sum of the parts
The performance of a football team is not something that you can easily measure. In order to define who the most powerful team is, you need to go farther than the result of a team. Performance is now based on the individual performance of the 11 players, the replacements, the coach, the individual games of each players… and a lot more information. Based on that, you can have an idea of the overall performance but it won't be very precise. It's actually impossible to give 1 number to performance of a team because it depends on so much factors that can change before and during a match
2. Past is past
For all the studies made in order to define who the best teams of this championship are, the elements used were the results of national teams during the past 4 years. Even if it provides a part of the answer, a lot of elements are directly impacting the performance of a match. Weather, feeling between the players, experience in clubs, ability to adapt to a new team, even presence of your wife supporting you are key elements. This means that studies based only on previous results cannot be precise. The best way to have a real understanding of a team performance is to be able to include past, present and sometimes future information.
3. The role of human
Another element that is important and very difficult to measure is…. The role of human and especially the role of arbitrator. For people watching football, we all know that sometimes, the result also depends on those guys. Even if most of them are fair, we all know that sometimes, a goal is canceled even if it was good. The problem is that we now have a lot of tool to be sure about a specific action but the arbitrator do not use it.
Those 3 elements are very important in order to have a better understanding of a team performance. But the impact of new technologies is going to change the way we train, play and arbitrate a football game. For example, a study has already show the impact of geographical zone and time difference on performance of a team.
Why is this similar to the way we measure and drive performance in a company? I think you already have the answer. As a football team, a company is depending on the performance of each individual and groups. Today, the best way to drive performance is to be able to have information about past, present and future activities. But if you don't include the role of an individual in all those studies, you will miss a part of information that can change you vision of the business. This is why Hypersoft develop "Personal analytics": being able to include the individual in every improvement projects.