Yesterday afternoon, I finally got around to seeing the hit film Moneyball. The movie is based on a book that outlines Billy Beane and his change of managerial approach as GM of MLB’s Oakland Athletics in 2002. It is an extraordinary view into the mind of a visionary leader. Also Beane, played by Brad Pitt, has some downright awesome negotiating skills.
Beane must become creative after the 2001 season when the team’s top players all enter free agency and Oakland cannot afford to bankroll them anymore. Like commercial industry, Major League Baseball had no budgetary regulations for each team’s payroll. The A’s had one of the smallest payrolls in baseball and Beane struggled to figure out a way to outplay the New York Yankees and others who had payrolls of over 50X what the A’s could afford.
The simple answer to this problem: change the game. By finding a new way to think about performance and literally changing the way an MLB team is managed, Beane led a team of what critics claimed to be misfits to the longest winning streak in MLB history and an appearance in the playoffs. By statistically analyzing the performance of the group as a team and not looking at just individuals, Beane changed baseball. Think back to the Indianapolis Colts case study a few weeks ago. If their management took this same approach, would Peyton Manning even be a Colt right now?
My big take away from this great movie was this:
if you cannot keep up with the game, change it. Innovation is king.