If I Was Running A Company…Selectology

If you’re wondering about the title, selectology it is a total knockoff of the word bracketology, which is a study of the NCAA Tournament brackets and which go in the tournament and which teams were snubbed.  There are only two people I know who have mastered bracketology: Joe Lunardi from ESPN and Chris Dobbertean of Bracketdobber.net (he’s also on Twitter @bracketdobber).  This post is in honor of bracketologists everywhere and how would it apply to business (plus to help my friend Dobber get more publicity).

If you don’t understand how the NCAA Basketball Selection Committee selects the teams, seeds them, and where they play, here’s a quick summary.  The selection committee consists of 10 people from different regions who are athletic directors and conference commissioners.  There are 5 who are from the BCS schools (the top 6 conferences) and 5 from small to mid-major schools.  The NCAA has 31 automatic bids for each conference tournament winner and 34 at-large openings for the best 34 teams available that did not win their conference tournament. 

To select the 34 at-large teams, the selection committee watches every game of significance.  The whole process is half visual and half statistics.  In the visual aspect, the committee can take a look if a team is hot down the stretch before the big dance starts, lukewarm, or limping.  In looking at statistics, the committee has a list of criteria of getting down to 34:

  • Polls
  • Win-loss record
  • Road record
  • Neutral Court record
  • Ratings Percentage Index (RPI)
  • Injury report
  • Strength of schedule
  • Key wins
  • Key losses

The selection committee looks at everything and can’t never miss a game.  Then the committee does a ballot of each team.  The team must receive 8 of 10 votes to move on.  If the committee member is associated with the team coming up, the person must step outside and the team must have 7 of  9 votes with the remaining committe members.  The committee will do this for a month until Selection Sunday when they have the final 65 teams.

Seeding is a little tricky as each bracket is divided by region.  You could easily rank them from 1-65, but the NCAA has restrictions of repeat conference matchups and travel.  For more information on how the whole process works, read this article by Pat Forde from ESPN two years ago.

So what should businesses learn about the selection committee?  One, the selection committee is the fairest method of all the methods for the NCAA (I’m looking at you BCS).  The only difference is businesses have to select one person, not 34.  There will be some obvious selections depending on research and interviewing.  However, what if there’s two choices you could not decide?  If you have co-workers in your department, give them a blind resume of the two candidates and let them decide who they want.  They can help you out why they like this person and what type of co-workers they want.  Another example is the company Board of Directors selecting their President and Vice President by vote, and shocker, politics do play some role in the vote, similar to selecting the 34 teams (I call it the Billy Packer Factor). 

So when you think of recruiters and hiring managers for your company, think of them as the selection committee for the NCAA.  They do the research and do the interviews and they can only select one (or two if you’re lucky) person for the position(s) available out of hundreds of applications.  It’s tedious, not pretty, and people will get snubbed and be angry at the company, but there’s a difference between business and sport: in business, there’s always next week.

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