However, despite a bevy of superstars and data-driven prognostications for success, the 2011 Red Sox fell short of the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Sports pundits were quick to suggest that the team’s shortcomings came neither in talent nor ability, but in leadership, team chemistry and effective coaching.
This made me think about my workplace. So much of the conversation about school reform has focused on the themes of data and testing-based measures of teacher quality; competition among both teachers and schools; and the eradication of teacher tenure and guaranteed pay raises. These policies, the argument goes, would compel better teaching and thus lead to better schools.
But there is something missing from this equation, just as it was missing from this year’s Red Sox.
...Statistics tell a great story on paper. We can use all of the advanced metrics we want to assess an individual’s efficacy. We can adjust someone’s pay based upon past performance. And we can make it easier to replace those we no longer deem suitable for the job.
But it is harder to quantify a team of engaged practitioners, led in their collaborative efforts to excel by fellow practitioners who know the craft well.
I’m a Red Sox fan. Trust me: I know.