I’m currently on route to the FIA conference in Australia. On the flight yesterday in between being fed like a Christmas goose I managed to get a spot of inspiration.
One of the in-flight movies was Moneyball Starring Brad Pitt and directed by Bennett Miller.
Based on the bestseller Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Moneyball is the true story of the Oakland A’s baseball team general manager Billy Beane.
Billy knew that they couldn’t compete with the big budgets that the other teams had to buy players so he had to win using different tactics.
Billy developed a new way of recruiting players by using computer based analysis to buy combinations of players with undervalued, yet complementary skills to form a winning combination. From changing the ‘normal’ approach based on the collected wisdom of players, managers and coaches Billy focused on buying ‘wins’ rather than players.
At first he was criticised for reinventing a system that had been working OK for years and threatening the game and the way that ‘things got done’. Then his strategy started to work. With his team Billy changed the game. His strategy was adopted by others. In fact two years later the Red Sox won the world series using Billy’s philosophy.
Despite his overall success Billy still thought he failed because the Oakland A’s didn’t win the final game of the season. His personal goal was all about his emotional romantic attachment to the game and that last win.
What can we learn from Moneyball
- It takes guts to try something new
- You can’t win by being the same as everyone else
- Helping people understand and bringing them with you is very important – it can be lonely without allies. It was only when Billy helped the team understand his strategy that he started to see success.
- You have to have passion. Billy’s passion for his team and emotional involvement with the game was a driving force.
- Billy tells a baseball scout who criticises his strategy to ‘adapt or die’. It’s true. The world changes, your competition changes and you have a choice to adapt or to die.
- Know what success looks like and celebrate it.
So watch it for yourself. It’s got a great song at the end that made me cry a little bit and proved me wrong. You can get romantic about baseball.