I finally watched Moneyball over the weekend. I’m not a big baseball fan but it held my interest, partly because it was based on a true story and partly because the movie really wasn’t about baseball at all. It was about old thinking vs. new thinking, about industry politics vs. the heresy of innovation, about dinosaurs desperate to hang on to a failing model that sustains their livelihood even when that model is clearly broken, ineffective and no longer relevant.
The scenes in which Oakland As’ general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) locks horns with his cadre of coaches and scouts over how to do more with less, about how to break the cycle of mediocrity plaguing their organization, about how to get results again is brilliant, not because of the writing or the acting but because it is spot on target. How do I know this? Because I have been in that meeting hundreds of times. Well, not that particular meeting, but in others exactly like it. And every week that goes by, I find myself sitting in that meeting again and again and again.
In the US, in Europe, in Asia, the same meeting goes on almost daily. The conference table is always basically the same, the fluorescent lighting too. The players, they’re the same as well, everywhere I go. Only the vocabulary changes, the industry lingo, but the meeting, it’s the same and it goes pretty much like this:
Billy Beane: Guys, you’re just talking. Talking, “la-la-la-la”, like this is business as usual. It’s not.
Grady Fuson: We’re trying to solve the problem here, Billy.
Billy Beane: Not like this you’re not. You’re not even looking at the problem.
Grady Fuson: We’re very aware of the problem. I mean…
Billy Beane: Okay, good. What’s the problem?
Grady Fuson: Look, Billy, we all understand what the problem is. We have to…
Billy Beane: Okay, good. What’s the problem?
Grady Fuson: The problem is we have to replace three key players in our lineup.
Billy Beane: Nope. What’s the problem?
Pittaro: Same as it’s ever been. We’ve gotta replace these guys with what we have existing.
Billy Beane: Nope. What’s the problem, Barry?
Scout Barry: We need 38 home runs, 120 RBIs and 47 doubles to replace.
Billy Beane: Ehh! [imitates buzzer]
What we see in this scene is a roomful of insiders with a century and a half of industry experience between them, and yet they haven’t figured out that their model is outdated, that their “experience,” is no longer enough to keep moving forward. They carry on day after day, season after season, doing the same thing over and over again, half-expecting a different result, but then again, maybe not. Worst of all, most of them have no idea what the problems plaguing their organizations actually are. A lot of it is just operational myopia. Some of it is also ego: they couldn’t possibly be wrong. All that experience and intuition, the entire industry’s decades-old model… how could things have changed that much, right?
And yet they are wrong, the model isn’t working anymore, and instead of listening to the guy in the room who sees it and knows how to fix it, they treat him like a punk. When he wants to do something about it, they push back. Hard. In Moneyball, he’s their boss. Imagine when he is just a Director or a VP, or even just an account manager. Imagine how quickly he gets overruled then. I’ve seen amazing people get shut down and pushed out of organizations over this sort of thing. I could give you names and dates. I could make you ill with true stories of stupidity and petty politics, of wasted opportunities and complete operational failures that turned what could have been huge wins for companies that needed them (and customers who demanded them) into case studies in wasted potential. And as tragic as these stories would be, they are no different from the opportunities that will be wasted this week, and the next, and the one after that, always for the same reasons, always because of the exact same thinking and business management dynamics.
I see that scene, that meeting, that discussion being played out almost everywhere I go, especially when it comes to social media and social business: guys sitting around a table, treating social like it is just an extension of the same old traditional digital marketing game they all understand and desperately want to stick to. And so they make strategy decisions based on models that don’t apply at all to the social space, they insist on using measurement schemes that aren’t the least bit relevant to it or the business as a whole, and worst of all, they make hiring decisions that absolutely make no sense at all for the new requirements of social communications. Why? Because even though the game has changed, no one in the room wants to accept that it has. No one in the room wants to adapt. No one in the room wants to look reality in the eye and do what needs to be done to actually win. Talk about it, sure. Use cool new words like earned media and engagement, definitely. But actually change anything and adapt to a new model? Nope. Not happening. The change management piece that comes with social business integration, the piece that is absolutely vital to it actually working, that piece is still DOA.
Here’s another conversation that also goes on “offline” at every company (agency or brand) around the world right now in regards to hiring decisions that touch on social media management. Here it is again, through the filter of Moneyball:
Peter Brand: There is an epidemic failure within the game to understand what is really happening. And this leads people who run Major League Baseball teams to misjudge their players and mismanage their teams. I apologize.
Billy Beane: Go on.
Peter Brand: Okay. People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs. You’re trying to replace Johnny Damon. The Boston Red Sox see Johnny Damon and they see a star who’s worth seven and half million dollars a year. When I see Johnny Damon, what I see is… is… an imperfect understanding of where runs come from. The guy’s got a great glove. He’s a decent leadoff hitter. He can steal bases. But is he worth the seven and half million dollars a year that the Boston Red Sox are paying him? No. No. Baseball thinking is medieval. They are asking all the wrong questions. And if I say it to anybody, I’m-I’m ostracized. I’m-I’m-I’m a leper. So that’s why I’m-I’m cagey about this with you. That’s why I… I respect you, Mr. Beane, and if you want full disclosure, I think it’s a good thing that you got Damon off your payroll. I think it opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities.
Every company has a Peter Brand either on staff or sitting in a stack of CVs. Not necessarily in the sense that they are geniuses with statistics but in the sense that they see the forest from the trees, that they see what needs to be done, but every time they open their mouths, they get shot down. Worse, if they open their mouths too much, they’re gone. And if their CV doesn’t have the bullet points and keywords that hiring managers were trained twenty years ago to find relevant, they don’t even get considered for the position.
If I see one more social media leadership position go by default to candidates with “big agency digital experience” or “big brand digital experience,” I am going to throw my pencil at somebody’s head. There is the medieval thinking in action, right there. There’s the primary reason why almost every social media program on the planet is failing to produce results, why three fourths of companies still can’t figure out how to calculate the ROI of their social media programs, why most brands see less than 1% of engagement from their followers and fans after the first touch, why “content is king” is failing, and why increasingly, “social media” strategy and budgets are shifting to ad buys on social networks. That’s right: For all the talk about earned media and engagement and conversations, social media account roles are starting to go to media buyers now. (Here’s some insight into it.) Everyone loves to talk the talk. Almost no company is willing to actually walk the walk. That sound you’re hearing is the banging of traditional marketing hammers pounding nails into social business’ coffin.
You want to know why most big brand social media programs aren’t gaining real traction? Why they don’t work without a constant influx of ad spending? Why nobody sticks around when the “free iPads for likes” promotions are gone? Start there: no one in the room gets it. No one in the room wants to get it. And when someone in the room does get it, he or she doesn’t keep their job for very long. You think most companies are going to hire, promote and support change agents all on their own?
So the real question is this: Do you want to actually score some real wins or do you just want to spend big marketing budgets and play at being a digital big shot?
It’s a real question. In fact, it’s the most important question you might ask yourself all year. Because the answer to that question will determine whether or not you still have a job in two years. No wait… I misspoke. The answer to that question will determine whether or not you have the job you want in two years, and yes, there’s a difference. A big one.
When you find yourself looking for your next gig (and you will eventually,) do you want to just be the guy who was SVP digital at (insert big brand/agency here) or do you want to be the guy who took (insert big brand/agency here)’s theoretical social media and social business programs, and turned them into the new industry standards, into the business model that everyone will be copying and basing theirs on for the next decade? It’s a real question. Which guy do you want to be? The dinosaur or the pioneer? If the answer is the latter, then are you going to have the huevos to go against the grain? To take chances on whom you hire, what kinds of programs you launch, where and how you invest your budgets? Are you willing to stick your neck out and do it right? Or is it more likely that you’ll just play it safe, hoping that the system will just carry you for another decade or two, that the CEO or CMO you will interview with next won’t notice that your job was basically to spend ad dollars and shuffle digital board pieces for the CEO’s monthly show-and-tell meeting?
Who do you want to be? What do you want to build? Do you want to just wear the jersey or do you want to win? Hold that thought. Here’s another key piece of dialogue from the movie, after Billy Beane’s gamble has paid off, after he has started turning some wheels in a big way. He responds to an invitation from John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, who tells him this:
John Henry: I know you’ve taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall. It always gets bloody, always. It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods, it’s threatening their jobs, it’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They go bat shit crazy. I mean, anybody who’s not building a team right and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs. They’ll be sitting on their ass on the sofa in October, watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.
And a couple of years later, they did.
So let’s talk about our world again for a minute. Let’s talk about what’s coming, about tipping points, about momentum: Ford not only hired the right guy (Scott Monty) a few years back but gave him the authority to build a solid program there. The result: some serious wins on just about every front, from customer perceptions to purchase intent to customer loyalty and recommendations. Even car design was impacted in 2010 by the importance of social communications in the Ford organization. Edelman Digital seems to be doing something similar (I keep running into some pretty solid folks there, notably Michael Brito and David Armano). Want to see something cool? This is one of the things they’re working on. Starbucks caught an early train with that too. So did Dell. What sucks is that in 2012, virtually no one else has even tried to keep up with them. For all the money being spent and all the “case studies” being pushed around the conference circuit, most companies are still fighting it, still refusing to accept that the game has changed – worse, trying to keep playing with old methods, with old thinking, with old, outdated skills and CV bullet points. But there will come a day when someone will be given the authority to build out this new model, when it will blow everyone out of the water, and when the blindfolds will have to come off. That day is coming. What side of change do you want to be on then?
Old thinking will not score wins here. Old tactics, old hiring, old measurement, they’re all wrong for these new marketing, communications and business models. They just don’t work anymore. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. Keep watching your margins erode. Keep watching your digital dollars go to waste. Keep laying people off and outsourcing every last business function you can’t afford to keep in-house anymore. Keep pretending the world is the same today as it was five years ago, and that what you were doing five years ago will still be relevant five years from now. Whatever makes you feel better. Keep doing the same old thing that used to work, back before people carried smart phones and iPads. Keep thinking that the guy you just hired because he spent ten years managing digital for a fast-food brand knows fuck-all about building capacity and traction for a social media program, let alone produce concrete business results for you. Keep coloring the same old boxes with the same old crayons and see how far you’ll get.
_ Okay good. What’s the problem?
We need to fill a VP Digital role.
_ Nope. What’s the problem?
All right… Whatever. We need to fill a VP social media strategy role.
_ Nope. What’s the problem?
We need to hire someone with proven global digital management experience, Billy. Someone with Disney or Nike on their CV. Someone with serious digital campaign experience.
_ Nope. What’s the problem, Barry?
The problem is, we’re not growing our Facebook community fast enough, and our content isn’t seeing the numbers we want. We need a…
_ Nope. [Imitates buzzer]
Get unstuck. Watch Moneyball and let the light bulb go off in your head. Then go find your Peter Brand and hire the shit out of him before someone else does. If you’re lucky, you’ll save both your career and your company in the process.
* * *
Here it is. A whole book on how to make social media work from a business standpoint. ROI is covered, along with a lot of process elements that tie back to it. If your favorite social business “expert” doesn’t seem to get this stuff yet, don’t feel bad about sending them a copy. Knowledge is never a bad gift.
CEO-Read – Amazon.com – www.smroi.net – Barnes & Noble – Que
Now THIS might just be your best post ever. Sadly, I have nothing else to add that wouldn’t just be blabbering on. Well done!
I really need to watch that movie.
You missed the grammarballs.
Did I? DID I?!?!?!?!
Also, your site still hates me. I have to log in twice every time I try to comment.
I think it’s time to move to wordpress.org. .com. .edu.
Reblogged this on ruugie and commented:
What an excellent post, thank you Olivier!
Not only did you not ruin how much I enjoyed this movie by annotating it into a post on business, but you actually enhanced it.
I wrote a post about this movie when I first saw it. It’s funny that you looked at the film from a business perspective and I looked at it from the perspective of an individual on a journey. One in which he never feels content, no matter how many hurdles he jumps over he manages to ignore the journey and the experience in search of a more difficult quest to try and find happiness.
In the end, he just has to realise his achievements and enjoy the show.
I loved reading this post Olivier (nothing new there).
Here’s my post for reference.
Just Enjoy The Show http://www.iamluca.co.uk/just-enjoy-the-show/
Thanks, man. I’m going to go read it. 🙂
I just fnshed your social media ROI book, as a VP of sales and former marketing, the book was a wealth of knowledge with very few pages that I left un-hi lighted. great book and blog…
This is a fantastic post, one of the best I’ve read on the topic far and wide and it’s not just corporates that are stuck this way. I got invited to interview for a role with a UK non-government organisation to become an adviser to UK business about combating piracy. I went along and the first question they asked me was “So, what new technologies can you discuss that will help stop piracy?” My answer? “None.” I said that if you think there’s a technology, now or in the future, that will stop piracy then you’re kidding yourselves and lying to your clients. I went on to tell them they needed to talk about alternate business models, social engagement and a host of other things and guess what. Yep, they looked at me like I’d just sprayed them with ShitMist. They weren’t interested. They might as well have put their fingers in their ears and said “la-la-la-la” until I stopped.
You see it’s the same thing. Even though they’re an NGO they’re funded by the government – a pretty penny as well – and their remit is specifically to help businesses with anti-piracy technology, not “combat piracy” which could mean doing things differently. Needless to say they hurried me out of the door within 20 minutes of sitting down and I wasn’t offered the job (not that I’d have taken it) but somewhere in the UK, someone is earning good coin by consulting to UK businesses and persuading them that there is a technological “magic bullet” to their piracy ills. I would just like to be there when they get found out.
The interview from hell. 😀 I’ve been there too. And yes, I’d like to be there that day as well.
One of your best posts by far. You hit the nail right on the head.
In fact, I’m going through the exact same thing as Peter Brand and Billy Beane. My ideas and opinions, which I politely bring up during meetings to the board of directors of the small organization where I work as a social media community manager, are reciprocally being ignored with a silent hint to “shut up and do your work like we hired you to do. Blog and post comments on our social network and let’s see some traffic. No one is going to change anything around here. That’s how it’s been for twenty years.” Funny enough, the same people drop by in my office only to get updates on the traffic volume we’ve acquired so far, without having the slightest idea of my job tasks and responsibilities. So, lately, I’ve had doubts myself about this job because my ideas are often pushed back to my corner to do my so-called job, which was clearly created as “an extension of the same old traditional digital marketing game they all understand and desperately want to stick to.” I’ve only been around for 3 months. If they’re not willing to listen and want stick to their old thinking, then I’m seriously considering exiting.
This post couldn’t have better timing. Thanks for sharing such insightful info, Olivier, as always.
Well, don’t exit yet. Look for a better gig, sure, but work on small wins. Think about a year from now, what story you’ll want to tell a recruiting manager:
a) I couldn’t really move the board or the organization to change.
b) I was encountering systematic resistance from everyone, so I focused on scoring small wins for every department, for every team. I met with (insert team here) and asked them what they were trying to do, what they wanted to be celebrating in 6 months. I looked at their goal and put together a plan to help them achieve it. A few months later, when we did, people started to get it. They saw the impact. So I started working with other teams on their goals, and we started hitting those. It wasn’t the great organizational reshuffling I would have wanted, but I made it work, and the company slowly started to move forward. Etc.
😉 Find your small wins.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post Olivier; you brought together my two passions in life, marketing and sports. I don’t follow baseball religiously, but this new system (buying wins vs. buying players) seems to be catching on with many (if not all) VP’s/GM’s/scouts and they are actually crunching numbers/stats to evaluate players. The system is gradually getting better with time (as more data becomes available), but I think this whole theory of “buy wins over players” is spot on.
Sometime in the future, we as marketers will be forced to do the same thing. As you say in your post, the system is broken; we can’t keep touting “engagement”, “more followers”, and “social mentions” as success for a business. So many people get caught up in the lingo of social media and lose sight of the end goal: proving how social helped grow the business from a financial standpoint (ROI). I almost want to say our industry is at a point similar to the one baseball was in at the beginning of the movie; our views are short-sighted and we aren’t looking at the situation as a whole from the right perspective. We haven’t quite figured out how to relate all this social activity back to something meaningful from a financial standpoint.
I think a good starting point would be analyzing the right data. We are crunching numbers/statistics, but in my opinion, they are the wrong ones. I can think of 20 tools out there off the top of my head that tell us pretty basic/useless information. None of these tools are very successful at clearly equating likes/fans/retweets/comments/engagement back to actual ROI. It stops at the conversation level. Don’t get me wrong, conversation is good, but a business cannot survive off of only conversation. I’m curious to see how the industry evolves and adapts because I think there will come a point in time, possibly in the near future, where execs will be fed up with “engagement” numbers and demand true ROI.
Spot on, Josh. Spot on.
I’m floored. In a good way.
I echo Marjorie’s sentiment – this may be your best post ever.
The biggest problem from my standpoint is that there are tons of people AT ORGANIZATIONS who are the combination of GM and Starting Pitcher. That’s a dangerous combination, IMHO. If the same person calls all the shots and starts every fifth day – he or she is NOT going to want someone coming in suggesting that the focus should be to get on base, because that’s how you score runs, and that’s how you win games.
Because they are the starting pitcher AND the GM, they’ll tell you to go pound sand.
I happen to think “social business” is bullshit, too, at 90% of organizations – because they’re bringing a cricket bat to a baseball game, then wondering why people are standing around on first base.
You guys say that every time I post something. 😀
You know, you make two VERY good points here. You’re absolutely right about both of them: the GM/starting pitcher problem and the cricket bat problem. Very true. I really don’t know how to fix the first one. Only the CEO of a company can fix that.
Passionate as usual, and spot on. Until the world will witness a stinking loser turn into a glamorous winner by “merely” absolutely getting social business and wrapping itself in there, it will be a while, or it will just blow over and resurface in some other form
And maybe that story should unfold in the newspapers, not out here in the Social echo chambers
Oh and btw, every time some evangalyst writes a post about socmed ROI and ends with pointing you to web traffic and Alexa stats, mumbling about conversion rates, another social mediot is born
How’s that for scary?
It’s scary enough to keep me up at night.
And again, Olivier, you nail it. The marketing world is changing every hour and while it’s impossible to keep up with trends and figure out what the next big thing will be, it is possible to take a step back and realize that there are ways to stand out from the crowded noise that is Social Media and marketing.
Sure, it’s great that you got 1k followers and 2k likes, but are they worthwhile of spending more than a few moments of reflection? By that I mean, what is the percentage of that 3k are actually your targeted audience and leads?
Plain and simple, the old ways aren’t working anymore…Be a company that “gets it” instead of one that wants it.
I couldn’t express this better myself, sometimes I think you are in my head reading my mind, but you express my thoughts so much better than I feel it and think it them. For that I thank you.
Most of the time I feel like the nerd in school, I talk about things that appose the norm, I question the status quo, and see the world of business so differently.
You and I have had many a chat on the value of and the measuring of Likes, Fans, Followers and so on…but helping business create new ways of buying wins is an art so few actually have, or care to spend time on. It’s despressing sometimes, you see something, share it, and people want to lock you up and throw away the key.
Thanks for being here, thanks for being one of the extreme smart people willing to share your thoughts.
We’re just seeing the same thing because we’re standing on the same side of the glass. 😉
That explains it : ) Does the term, resistance is futile come to mind, I think we are the ones thatb should be saying it. In the future, as the older generations leave the business world, we will see much of what we are preaching and teaching today.
Just my perspective : )
“Resistance is futile” was a slogan. As it turns out, resistance wasn’t futile at all. 😉
Wow. I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed this post. Well done!
As a baseball fan, I’ve always appreciated Billy Beane because he figured out that there had to be a different way to identify quality players and to compete with big-market teams. That he did it by parsing data differently just makes me like him that much more.
Companies too often try to solve the reactive problem of the moment rather than stepping back and figuring out what opportunities might arise from that opening.
Nice post. Now I must find this movie.
The default is always this month’s numbers and this month’s bonus. “We’ll worry about next year some other time.”
One company I worked with years ago had VPs who fired employees before the end of the month so they could tweak their numbers and make their bonus. Their growth philosophy was “incremental points of change.” It was the most depressing, vicious, dysfunctional corporate ecosystem I have ever run into.
Sharing the hell out of this, Olivier. Working with the small fries and tiny biz units of large corporations as we do, I’m finding that some take a “less-to-lose-and-do-more-with-less” attitude that ends up delivering big. I wrote about that last week at http://rurelevant.com/2012/04/12/the-value-of-being-merely-present-in-social-media/
Ooft. Great writing, good flow, solid points. First I’ve read of your blog, but I’ll be back soon: you use colons well.
Bam, and he slams it out of the park: “Think of it as a game of hot potato. What’s the objective? To keep the potato in the air as long as possible. The way it works is nobody stops to look at the potato.”
This reminded me of another recent bubble that had the finance industry in thrall. Anyone remember CDS, securitized mortgages and property market values that “never go down.” Same lazy-research-short-termism-nativity-hussle loop, different day.
You know who I feel bad for? Any team out there actually trying to build a business with real value.
Dude – you hit it out of the park!
We see this over and over again. But getting people to come back to those objectives is hard work. Forcing people to articulate their business problem is challenging – partly because there are no words for that. Corporate cultures produce their own languages that allow us all to skate around the reality of a situation – and worse – they substitute the language of problems with the language of solutions. So we are therefore framing our business issues through the lens of action and outcome rather than nailing the issue to the wall for all to see.
It’s why I still think strategy is revolutionary. Getting strategy right means dismantling all those distractions. And more often than not, it means conflict.
That’s quotable, man. All of it.
Hi Olivier, this is Vibhu working as Brand manager in India. I have been following your blog for quite sometime now and this blogpost by far has been the most shaking one… This theory, that Management fear change in the way they have been working and winning in the past, is uniform across world.
I see this not only in Social/digital media campaigns but in strategy (way they do business) as well. The moment anyone try to shake things up and advocates a new idea he is questioned or worse shot down immediately.
In India “social” media marketing is small but surely getting lots of interest but there is no clear direction to proceed on.
With you permission sharing this post with my colleagues.
Hi Vibhu. Yep, you’re right. It’s a universal thing. And please, yes, share away. 🙂
Brilliant post, Olivier. As I mentioned to you, I’ve been working on this with maybe one of the most recognizable global brands with hundreds of thousands of employees. How do we get the right people, in the right places, with the right knowledge to create the right action? John Henry’s quote is spot on… the first one through the wall will get bloody, but if you can truly be an agent of change, the benefits of innovation will have a dramatic fiscal impact for the business.
The challenge we routinely face is the lack of agreement on the core metric. For Beane, it was OBP (on base percentage). Get men on base and the likelihood of generating runs increases. What is the OBP for Social Business? It’s not engagement. That’s too amorphous.
We need to make the connection from the “fluffy” social metrics to the true business results. Once you cut through the legacy thinking, it doesn’t take long for the business to realize that it isn’t as hard as they thought.
The point is, get out of the PowerPoint presentations and theories and start moving forward. We’ve spent 2 years developing a process that works and avoids the potential for turning the employee base into a marketing channel or army of brand clones but still can drive down marketing costs, optimize content creation and drive real financial results for the business.
We’ll talk more soon!
Dude you keep writing these great posts on things from in my head – so I will first thank you for showing me the power of putting them down on paper. Like Luca said, and like you, I too find business lessons in movie story lines. Just comes natural.
What is rolling around in my head though is while we have these conversations with each other, clients and companies area still hiring the “other people in social media” so what have we done or won here?
How can we effect the change that needs to happen when we are not the CEO of every company-just our own.
Oh, and great advice to beafemme about finding small wins once inside. Do you think we should do what we have to to “get inside”? Otherwise we keep standing outside the restaurant window pounding on the glass as everyone insides eats steak!
Love this piece. Interesting to think about how the incentives work for the investment community. You usually think of VC’s as being these skeptical number crunchers sitting on the other side of the table from the founder, but I suppose once they invest then all the incentives change. Then it’s about touting the company’s success to maximize the investment until the next investor buys in.
Good post, Olivier. I thought the same kind of thing watching it. It’s always about this isn’t it? Traditional thinking vs. new? The problems are not what we think they are – on the surface. It’s the same thing with the idea of creativity – too many people try to solve creative problems using tried and true techniques. I think we use these techniques as a foundation of sorts – but we go beyond them, reaching as far from them as possible to see what’s out there. Thinking bigger. Not thinking ‘outside the box’ but rather building a better box from which to discover solutions. One of the best bits of advice I’ve ever received was ‘It’s easier to run in on a fly ball than run back on one.’ Think big – scale in.
Great read, thank you. I know in your disclaimer you say you’re not a baseball fan, but you should really read Moneyball, the Extra 2%, and some other good books on how sabremetrics have altered the way we judge “value” in baseball.
In fact, there’s a huge debate right now in the sporting world over who should be AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout. Cabrera won the “Triple Crown” (lead the league in RBIs, HRs, and runs) and is on a team that made the playoffs. Trout is a 20 year old rookie that just had one of the most amazing seasons ever statistically. Both are deserving, but the debate isn’t really about them; it’s about how we determine “most value” in baseball.
Enter the debate and you’ll hear all sorts of metrics like WAR, UZR, xFIP, wRC+, OPS+…stuff that didn’t exist 10 years ago. The debate is really about new system vs old system. Looking at RBIs and runs is seen as antiquated by the new guard, because they simply don’t calculate the benefit to a team one player generates, in the same way a more independent stat would. WAR is probably the most quotable new stat: Wins Above Replacement. You know that quote from Peter Brand (who by the way isn’t a real person; it’s a representation of a guy named Paul DePodesta) about “you’re buying wins.” That’s what WAR is: How many wins, through an amalgamation of other KPIs, did player X earn my team, over the average baseball player? If an average player creates 0 wins, how much better is player X over player AVG? Trout’s WAR was 10.5. Cabrera’s was 7. Trout was worth 3.5 more wins for the Angels than Cabrera for the Tigers. Anyway…it’s very interesting when you look at the debate from a new system vs old system vantage-point.
Great post! loved it only it left me a little on edge, I’m about to have that meeting with our execs….. Trying to be the maverick here.
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