The Moneyball StoryIn the early 2000s the Oakland A's were struggling to find success, and the general manager hired a new assistant manager who used a different spin to identify talent for the team. Instead of relying on the gut instinct of seasoned baseball talent scouts, a strategy used by every other team, he looked for talent based on one statistic: how often a player got on base (whether through hits, walks, and so on). This odd spin on researching talent was unorthodox, but allowed the team to find diamonds in the rough of free agency. Players that had been discarded by other teams for poor recent performance might still have great on-base percentage numbers. Those discarded players became the pillars of success for the A's. They were able to craft a winning team for less than it would have cost to take the most popular talent available.
Applying Moneyball to BusinessCan you apply some of these tactics to managing your own business?
Be UnorthodoxSometimes the best ideas are born out of desperation. When the Oakland A's starting picking up random, undesirable players based on a single statistic, they were called crazy. No one thought it would work because it was an unorthodox strategy.
The team's financial situation may have pushed management toward an unorthodox strategy, but sometimes being unorthodox is your best option. Maybe there is a better way to attract talent, or build a widget, or sell a product. It might seem crazy at the beginning, but sticking to your gut on a drastic change can be great for your business.
Ignore DetractorsWhen you are unorthodox or go against the grain of what is an industry norm, you are bound to have detractors sharing negative thoughts with you. You might be crazy, or you might be crazy enough to turn an industry on its head. When other Major League Baseball teams and critics called the A's crazy, they built a winning team that was right for their financial situation. No one said it would work, and it did.
Make Better Hiring DecisionsYour industry standard for hiring might be someone with a bachelor's degree in business management and 3-5 years of experience. Or MBA candidates from a Top 10 school with 10 years of experience. All of your competitors are investing serious money into salaries for these candidates, so obviously you have to do the same just to keep up. This can lead to an expensive war for talent.
But what about the communications professional with a passion for your industry? Would you ignore them as a potential hire just because "the industry" says to?
Focus in on what truly matters to your organization. Industry familiarity is just one factor to consider, and in the big scheme of your hiring it may not be the most important. Identify the factors that matter most to your organization, and pursue those candidates no matter the industry norm.