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Kimble CMO Mark Robinson Applies Moneyball to Services in TSW 2019 Presentation

Published: May 2019

The 23rd annual Technology & Services World tech conference, or TSW, is in full-swing in San Diego, California until Wednesday, May 8th. The conference is run by the Technical Services Industry Association (TSIA) and attracts Services leaders from technology organizations across the globe eager to learn more about the intersection of technology and services organizations, and the trends emerging on the market today.

This year at TSW, Kimble Applications is especially excited to be announcing the launch of our Summer 19 product release focused on Intelligent Time Capture.

The Kimble team has been showing the enhanced consultant experience to visitors to booth #35, so if you are at the event in San Diego, please stop on by the Kimble booth to learn about product features new and old!

The Summer 19 release is focused on enabling consultants to become champions of PSA technology, an important shift in the marketplace as businesses realize the only way to truly unlock the value of a PSA tool is through adoption.

Accordingly, Kimble is debuting a product at TSW that will drive engagement for those users that keep information in the application accurate and current.

Moneyball for PS Organizations: The Double-Edged Sword of Intuition

 

This morning, Kimble founder and CMO Mark Robinson led a TSW session that touched on similar themes – titled “Moneyball for PS Organizations: The Double-Edged Sword of Intuition”, the session outlined the importance of enabling more individuals in professional services organizations to make strategic business decisions.

Marc Lacroix of RTMC and fellow Kimble colleague Lauren Leonard joined Mark Robinson on stage, with the three presenters applying the transformational principals behind Moneyball, the sabermetric approach to analytics that changed baseball, to the world of professional services for a crowd of over 150.

How do humans perceive trends?

The “Moneyball for PS Organizations” presentation opens with an intriguing audience quiz that highlights some of the statistical fallacies humans can’t shake when they try to analyze reality. These questions are pulled from Hans Rosling’s 2018 book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, and each question underlines that subtitle’s point – humans perceive trends like poverty levels or population levels to be much more drastic (and negative) than they actually are.

Do we rely on gut or strategic thinking more?

Referencing Daniel Kanheman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Robinson pivots to the concept that as humans we may rely more heavily on gut-feelings than we would like to admit. Kanheman finds that our brains work in two ways – “system one” (gut-feel) and “system two” (analytical, calculated) thinking.

We think we are using system two thinking more often than not. However, research shows that 95% of the time we rely on system one, or our gut-feelings, to make decisions. So, what does this have to do with professional services? “For us in professional services, this finding is scary because we are constantly faced with these sort of questions,” says Robinson, who points out that if your decision making process is flawed you won’t be successful.

How to be more effective with the decision making process?

The decision-making process is usually bottlenecked by a small group of people who have the experience to draw upon to make those decisions. The solution seems to be to empower others to make decisions for the business rather than having one person wield all the power. But those with this experience are too busy to train others.

The question that Robinson wants to answer is this: “How do we become more efficient and scalable in decision-making, moving it down the organization and closer to the customer without losing control or compromising the quality of decision-making?”

So, what does this have to do with Moneyball?

This is the point in the presentation where the presenters break out clips from the 2011 film Moneyball – old baseball scouts grumbling around a table about gut feelings as a statistical analyst who’s run the numbers tells them they’re undervaluing players who can help a team win games. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, a 2003 book by Michael Lewis, tells the story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane. The book focuses on the team’s analytical, evidence-based, sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive baseball team despite Oakland’s tight budget. And Mark Robinson and Marc Lacroix argue that the focus of the people in the room should be the same in their businesses.

Moneyball for PS Organizations

When we think of professional services with Moneyball’s lessons in mind, we are essentially trying to get the right players to the right positions – those roles that will play to their strengths and ultimately deliver more “winning games” to your business. In other words, consistently delivered, successful projects.

To get there, businesses need to cut through all the noise and excessive information and handle resource allocation and other decisions based on data. The Moneyball concept changed baseball forever with teams that were slow to adopt it struggling to recover, and that should be an inspiration for how we think about decision-making in a professional services context.

What can services organizations learn from Moneyball?

 

Professional services organizations should think differently. Professional services firms need a system that will allow them to take a step back to make more calculated and strategic decisions that are not based on gut or intuition. Humans have a natural propensity to make rash decisions, and this is a major roadblock for professional services organizations, who are making decisions every single day. So, how do organizations as a whole shift from system one (gut) to system two (calculated) thinking?

Here at Kimble, we think that people should get more facts into their thinking—specifically, we see Kimble PSA as providing system two (strategic, calculated) thinking in a services decision-making process. It is not always easy to take a step back and think slower (as Daniel Kanheman puts it); Kimble PSA can be the solution that bridges the gap, allowing humans to make strategic, informed, and calculated decisions.

Far too much of the time we rely on human instinct and miss the analytical piece – what PSAs can do is provide the facts to improve the quality of decision making. Challenge the way you are making decisions and the way you are empowering and delegating others to make decisions.

Too often we only consider the outcome of a decision and not the decision-making process. To paraphrase Kanheman, you are better off getting a negative outcome based on the right decision-making process than getting a positive outcome based on a flawed process. Challenging the process is more likely to deliver consistent results than focusing only on the outcome.

Here are a few common professional services decisions and the underlying analytical questions that you should be able to answer in order to make a “system two” choice:

1
Should we discount the project?

Do you know the total value and profitability of this client? Is that profitability number based on actual data or are you acting on someone’s word? On what basis have you made discounting decisions before? Have you spoken with the salesperson?  What are typical discount levels in the industry?

2
Which resources are assigned?

Many times, businesses can fall victim to eight-player syndrome – that is always thinking of only “the A team” when a big project or portfolio comes around. If you have a good view into who all the players involved (not just the typical players), you’re more like to optimize your decision-making around resourcing. Always ask: What skills, experience, and cost options do we have to choose from?

3
Should we hire new resources?

One of the biggest quandaries businesses face is when to hire and how much to hire. The decision-making process behind hiring is typically based on cobbled-together data that is assembled when it’s time to find a new resource. Keep in mind the following:

  • What is the demand outlook for this role for 6 months?
  • What is your past and future utilization trend?
  • What are the demand drivers of this resourcing need?

Final Thoughts

To close out the Moneyball presentation, Robinson returns to what led him and his co-founders to create the Kimble solution eight years ago.

“We looked at what was leading the market. Generally, it was all about getting data to people, the 360-degree view of the customer, access to information… But what we realized was the challenge in scaling a business is that in order to scale a business, you have to be looking at how more people can be making the right decisions at the right time. What we have done to build out the product over time, to make it more like Moneyball, is that a person without a ton of experience can utilize a tool and make a decision with strategy.”

To learn more about empowering consultants and project managers through technology, listen to the latest webinar from TSIA, “Where the Rubber Meets the Road” presented by John Ragsdale, TSIA’s distinguished vice president of technology research, and Charles Gustine, Kimble’s product marketing manager.

This webinar covers:

  • Working with consultants to adopt technology that will benefit them and the organization
  • Shifting the conversation from entering time to estimating the amount of time remaining
  • Understanding what essentials to look for in a PSA tool