• Home
  • Blog
  • Podcast
  • Balancing Data and Instinct: Finding the Right Fit in Organizational Roles

Balancing Data and Instinct: Finding the Right Fit in Organizational Roles

In the movie Moneyball, Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt’s characters utilize a combination of analytics and gut instincts to build a team of the ages with a shoestring budget. That same mentality can be used by companies to build all-star sales teams that consistently win.

By combining strong metrics with personal preferences and observations, leaders can ensure role fit — and overall organizational success.

Adam Sidoti, VP of Revenue Operations at Redwood Logistics, brings his unique perspective to the table to discuss the art of building a balance between analytics and instincts and utilizing that system of balance to manage personnel moves and more.

Allowing data to tell the story vs trusting your instincts

The Houston Astros recently hired a new team manager. While journalists were interviewing leadership concerning the hire, they made it clear that the hire was about continuity and commitment to analytics.

Their previous team manager was known to ignore the analytics and data to trust his gut instead. While sometimes this worked in their favor, it did not always end well. At the same time, you’ll hear criticism of someone who manages too closely to the numbers, never trusting their gut.

The key to success is finding and developing a natural, logical balance between managing by the numbers and trusting instincts. If there is a 75% certainty that something will occur, it may seem logical to believe it will. However, there are some that will point out that the 25% is impactful.

In commercial organizations, there usually exists a natural balance of the two. Allowing data to shape the story and the narrative of the organization and its decisions is the only way to win consistently.

Navigating the problem of data deficiencies

One of the largest problems companies face when approaching the balancing act of data and instinct is the sample size of their data. When companies have a mere handful of months’ worth of data to utilize, assumptions made based on that data will likely be less reliable than those of a company with five years worth of reliable data. 

At the same time, what’s considered to be “data” could be anything from a statistic to a percentage to an assumption. How those are each measured and weighed can be very subjective.

Following the data and allowing assumptions from convincing metrics is equally important as trusting your instincts when there is not enough data to support an empirically based conclusion.

Akin to the story behind the book and movie Moneyball, it’s extremely important to find a system and build a balance that works towards your company’s goals while utilizing the available resources. 

Personality and role fit

When this philosophy applies to personnel management, taking personality and personal preferences into serious consideration should be a top priority.

When a rep has stellar numbers, leaders may be quick to put pen to paper to bring them into their team. However, if a rep has astounding results in closing deals, they may prefer to avoid the work involved with pipeline management. If the position you are looking to fill will require more pipeline management than end-stage sales, this may be a problem.

Having a team that holds each other accountable is crucial. Sticking to the organization’s needs, even when faced with incredible talent, will lead to making the right decisions that build long-lasting, extremely successful sales teams.

Leveraging individual interests and goals for success

When a naturally introverted sales rep performs extremely well at promotional events, but they are completely drained at the end of the day, that is not a recipe for success.

Even if the immediate result is fantastic, the exhaustion will quickly lead to burnout — and that leads to turnover.

Evaluating not only what reps excel at but also what functions best for their personality is the key to retention and satisfaction (and better metrics).

“When I’m managing someone or just having a casual conversation with them, I’ll ask them what they are good at, what they want to do. Often, I’ll hear that they have been in sales for X number of years, and they believe they should be a manager. I’ll ask them why they believe they should be a manager. What is it that attracts you to that role?” Adam says.

Often, reps look at common paths of career advancement before they consider their own strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Leaders should encourage them to find paths that actually meet their needs.

Interested in learning more? Listen to our full conversation, where Adam takes a deep dive into metrics vs instincts, managing data, adapting to personalities and personal goals, having honest and concise conversations in all circumstances, and more. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to The Strategy Gap

A podcast about the space between savvy strategy and practical execution, including everything that can go wrong on the way. 


Meet the Author  Jonathan Morgan

Jonathan Morgan is the VP of Revenue Operations and Head of Marketing at AchieveIt. Jonathan has spent time in roles across strategy consulting, sales, customer engagement, marketing, and operations, enabling a full picture view of strategy & strategy execution. His generalist background encourages a full picture view of strategic planning & strategy execution. Jonathan graduated from Georgia Tech and received his MBA from the University of Florida.

Hear directly from our awesome customers

See first-hand why the world's best leaders use AchieveIt

See AchieveIt in action 

Stay in the know. Join our community of subscribers.

Subscribe for plan execution content sent directly to your inbox.