Understanding Billy Beane’s success with the Oakland A’s baseball team can help you build a better business.
I went to see Money Ball last night at the cinema. It’s a good film, particularly if you like baseball, but it is also a wonderfully inspiring film about some of the things you need to get right to run a successful business. It is the story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.
This is what he does well:
1. He recognises that he can’t win if he just behaves the way his competitors do.
2. He is open-minded to the idea that someone else may be able to help him and that metrics applied to his players may help him to have an edge over the competition.
3. He embraces these metrics as the basis for decision making and resource allocation.
4. He is courageous enough to try something new and overcomes considerable opposition to execute his plan without much compromise.
5. He delegates, but understands that he is still responsible if it doesn’t work out.
What he does less well:
1. This is a dramatic story as he (like many people) left it much too late; you might want to consider addressing some of these issues whilst things are going well, not at the last moment.
Billy Beane demonstrates a number of the key attributes needed to run a successful business: leadership and strategic thinking; openness to new ideas and other people’s advice; the use of metrics to understand what is actually going on in the business; willingness to look beyond conventional thinking; the acceptance that you need to be different to win; and the understanding that you need to be aligned in the implementation of your ideas.
The interesting thing for me is that many businesses operate like the Oakland A’s used to and there is much to learn from Billy Beane and this rather good film if you too want to build a more successful business. If you are facing strong competition you (and your management team) should see this film.