Moneyball is the story of how the Oakland A’s competed with the big boys by finding the rare talent, by crunching “different” numbers, and crunching those numbers differently. It tells the story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics, and how they genuinely competed (they won their division) with less money than any other team in their division.
Here are some excerpts from the book:
“Sandy Alderson concluded that everything from on field strategies to player evaluation was better conducted by scientific investigation – hypotheses tested by analysis of historical statistical baseball data – than by reference to the collective wisdom of old baseball men. By analyzing baseball statistics you could see through a lot of baseball nonsense.”
“Alderson’s reference point for running an organization was the time he’d spent as an officer in the Marine Corps… The individual star was less important than the organization as a whole, and the organization as a whole functioned well only if it was uniformly disciplined.”
“…If you challenge the conventional wisdom, you will find ways to do things much better than they are currently done.”
Four key “transferable” principles:
- When you don’t have the resources, you have to go to plan B.
The Oakland A’s found “undervalued players.” These players were still available because they did not fit the image of a baseball player. They were “unacceptable” to traditional baseball scouts, but their statistics demonstrated a mastery of the skills needed.
- There is a plan B that works, and you can find it if you look hard enough.
Chances are it is not known by the “long-timers.” Chances are that you have to bring in true “outside help.” In the book, Lewis describes true, genuine changes – changes that affected everything about the way to look at a baseball team.
- Numbers are more reliable than…
Cities do not have the luxury of making decisions without hard numbers behind them. Numbers are more reliable than intuition, tradition, emotion, or… mostly anything!
- The aggregate is more important than the individual.
What is done over all (together) is what the company needs.
This book is a true story, but it is also one gigantic parable for anyone in business. Collect lots of numbers — the right numbers. Pay attention to those numbers. Know what numbers (and traditions) to ignore. Make the changes you need to make, no matter who opposes those changes. Work with what you can get, and then do whatever it takes to compete no matter how strange or how unconventional it seems.
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis