Don’t Let Data Flatten Your Business Strategy

Raymond Hannes
2 min readApr 25, 2024

A unique business lesson can be learned from the data revolution in the NBA. The attached image shows the transformation in the NBA’s shot selection over nearly two decades as data analytics have become the way to improve your chances of winning as a team.

The visuals illustrate a clear pattern: the wining strategy involves shots from beyond the arc or close to the hoop, rather than mid-range. This analytical shift has transformed the game and is now universally adopted among teams. Algorithms have flattened the game, making the game significantly less exciting as a result. The algorithms are optimized for winning the game, which might result in losing the audience.

The question is, what implications does this change have for us in the business world?

Just as in basketball, data-driven decisions in business can establish industry-wide best practices. However, this approach runs the risk of promoting uniformity and digital sameness. When all companies follow the same path, differentiation diminishes. Innovation isn’t solely about adhering to the numbers; it’s about identifying your distinctive position on the court.

The key takeaway? Utilize data to shape your strategies, but never lose sight of what makes you unique as a company. Don’t let algorithms flatten your business model! Instead, select unique winning practices and refrain from falling into the trap of ‘best practices’.

How is your organization preserving its uniqueness amidst industry best practices?