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Race Car Algorithms for Managers?

Posted by: Jena McGregor on August 24, 2007

What can managers learn from race car driving? Plenty, it seems. There have been several stories over the years about how some management teams have participated in NASCAR pit crews as a way to build teamwork and improve efficiency.

And now comes software, retooled for managers, that helps Formula One racing teams make decisions. SmithBayes, a U.K.-based company led by a group of ex-Reuters execs, has applied algorithms used in the racing world to the corporate one to help give managers a more real-time way to analyze hundreds of variables, data and assumptions on new strategies, investments and markets.

SmithBayes’ CEO Simon Williams stopped by recently to show me a demo. While I’ll never profess to be a software expert, it was clear the tool could help managers sift through various potential strategies and business models. Williams says SmithBayes is distinctive for its ability to let managers use uncertainties in the calculations rather than merely known data. The assumption-based scenarios it helps managers see, says Williams, is today done mostly by strategy consultants. And keeping them out of your boardroom may be one reason to at least check it out.



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