As we discussed in the last blog post, Moneyball (the book and movie) showed how Billy Beane used Sabermetrics to transform the subpar Oakland A’s into a Playoff contender (1). Sabermetrics has been called “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.” Sabermetrics basically just applies the Scientific Method to baseball statistics in order to gain knowledge about player metrics that best predict team wins. By trying out different metric combinations, making predictions, looking at game results compared to his predictions and making adjustments, Beane got the “objective knowledge” he needed. The results were undeniable.
Some of us are old enough to remember when Construction Management (CM) was the big thing in construction. Then Partnering, Value Engineering, and Total Quality Management (TQM) came along. Now it’s Lean Construction, Building Information Modeling (BIM), and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), all working to address the waste, declining productivity, conflict or uncertain outcomes. These are really good, but can’t strike at the heart of the problem. Our industry’s deepest problem is the same that manufacturing wrestled with until a statistician by the name of W.E. Deming came along. He summed it up like this: “Lack of knowledge…that is the problem.”