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Moneyball Sourcing Lesson 4: Having the Courage to Believe the Data

Featuring guest blogger Marvin Smith, senior Research recruiter at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Metrics can be powerful when coupled with the right imagination and vision. Billy Beane’s story, Moneyball, teaches us that when there is too much information – no sport has more data than baseball – it is time to rethink what and how we measure success. Success in baseball is winning; success in sourcing and recruiting is hiring. And like the journey to winning in baseball, the path to hiring as viewed through the eyes of data will help us determine what activities lead to success.

Adapt or Die is the motivation that will lead us there. In order to make our metrics and new understanding of recruiting and sourcing work, we need to pay attention to what our target audience, i.e. candidates, want and work with them in the communities in which they participate. At the end of the day, we need to take the info to which we’re privy and have the courage to move forward on it.

In baseball, John W. Henry serves as a perfect example. The futures and foreign exchange trading advisor and former owner of the Florida Marlins went on later in his career to purchase the Boston Red Sox. As owner, Henry hired baseball writer, historian, statistician and developer of sabermetrics, Bill James with the goal of ending the Curse of the Bambino. Henry’s payoff came two years later, when the Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 2004 World Series after beating the Yankees in the greatest postseason collapse in baseball history. Henry, James and the Red Sox turned the metrics and their theories into a reality, by having the courage move forward with their data and vision.

When performance is structured, benchmarked and measured, you should be confident to make decisions based on that data, even if it challenges those things you already “know” about recruiting. It seems like a simple, logical step, but it’s often the most difficult to adopt.

Thanks for joining us for this special guest blog series. Moneyball Sourcing Lessons 1, 2 and 3 are currently available on the Talent Function Group blog. If you’d like to learn more, you can view Marvin’s recent webinar on Moneyball Sourcing on and join the Talent Community Development Group on LinkedIn.