Measuring SABR Performance (2010)

By F.X. Flinn

This material was distributed to the board at the October 2010 budget meeting as a technique for measuring progress toward revitalizing the Society.

Key Success Factor measurement is a tool used in product development practice. It seeks to “measure the unmeasurable” by defining that handful of attributes which are key to the success of the product. Typically these attributes are given names ending in “ility” such as profitability. Usually one or more of the attributes get fun names, for example, a company designing a new bilge pump for pleasure-boat owners decided there was no point in coming up with a new one unless it solved the problem of all bilge pumps, namely, that they leave a little bit of water behind that needs to be sponged up. One of the sales guys joked that “sponge-ability” was  what they wanted to sell. So “spongeability” became a KSF for that product development team.

Once the key factors are identified, everyone on the team privately assigns a value of 1 to 10, where 10 is perfection, on where the project stands for each given factor. Spongeability started out as 6, since their existing technology left behind less water than most bilge pumps. The decided they wouldn’t go to market with less than a 9.

The beauty of the number is that it isn’t derived by math, but instead by people discussing their own opinion of the number and the team coming to a consensus as to what the score should be at that week’s meeting. It becomes a way of measuring progress, a way of measuring the unmeasurable.

Here’s my take on four strategic areas SABR has to get right into order to succeed. Each of the KSFs is named, defined, and examples or sub-factors provided.

A sample KSF Chart is available for download here.

Key Success Factors for SABR


SABR’s capacity for creating and supporting opportunities to

  • Collaborate on projects
  • Get published and share results of research work with an interested audience
  • Share unique experiences not available to the ordinary fan
  • Socialize with others that have equal depth of interest in baseball
  • Access research assets
  • Easily locate and engage with parts of the diverse universe that is SABR
  • Tie together persons sharing the love of the game as an aspect of the growing hyperlocal movement


SABRs member benefits are perceived as greater than the cost of dues, that is, SABR’s value proposition is easily grasped

  • 2 BRJ + 1 TNP retail $60 + $9 postage exceeds $65 dues
  • “In the loop” via participation in SABR-L and other e-lists
  • Convention cost reasonable for combination of content, game, hotel
  • Connecting with a welcoming community of passionate fans, celebrity experts and Those Who Have Played … priceless


SABR brand is well defined and worth identifying with for both potential members and potential partners

  • SABRen are ‘most knowledgeable fans’ of the game, not socially inept geeks living in their mom’s basement
  • SABR put the saber in sabermetrics
  • The SABR imprimatur can be trusted because SABR doesn’t publish without a quality assurance process
  • As an entity with no commercial axe to grind it occupies a unique niche inside the baseball industry
  • Expectations of new members are exceeded
  • Expectations of renewing members are managed
  • Web site supports brand impression for first-time visitors and deepens it for continuing users…the baseball place
  • SABR…of course


SABR is operated on a day to day basis with smooth efficiency and superb economy

  • Non-profit best practices followed in all regulatory matters
  • Membership management system is highly automated
  • Excellent member communications reduces staff need to answer questions repeatedly
  • Bookkeeping and accounting controls and reporting support executive decision making and oversight
  • Staff is engaged in operational improvement efforts and encouraged to provide thought leadership
  • Staff attitude includes ‘Baseball…We Love It!’