Well, here I sit the morning after the Chicago Cubs victory over the Pittsburg Pirates (sorry Pirate’s fans 🙁 ) in the wildcard game and I can think of little else. I come from a long line of Cubs fans (my grandfathers, uncles, my Dad, three brothers, my husband and my three sons) so whether I like baseball or not, I have had no choice BUT to be a fan. Could this be the year? Why now? What is different today than in years past?
My opinion – Moneyball!!! Our President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein would cringe if he read this because he has denied that his approach – focusing on competency in the recruiting, development and positioning of players has anything to do with the Moneyball story but actually it does. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the story, here is a brief synopsis (peppered with some familiar TMG takes on transformation).
Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team is well-known for fundamentally redefining the way baseball teams make decisions and challenging the way teams had been managed for over a century. He essentially changes the decision criteria used to select players to a much more fact-based model, which focuses on the real value the players bring toward the Intended Consequences (getting a win). Once he redesigns the consonants (People, Process, Technology), he quickly realizes that getting to the expected results is still far away. It’s not until he focuses on the vowels (Adoption, Execution, Implementation, Optimization and Utilization) that the results start showing up. Here are some of the constraints he faces:
- Faces resource constraints in terms of total budget available – SIGNIFICANTLY less than the competition (can you say –Yankees)
- Entrenched resistance
- Scouts who still evaluate talent the way it’s been for decades (decision models and processes)
- Salaries of players based on old metrics (reward system)
- Players who define their roles based on those metrics
- Middle management (Manager) a TOTAL barrier to change – Theo just brought on a new manager
- Players totally fighting the change
- An organizational attitude that accepts failure(this sounds like the Cubs 🙂 )
- Changing the entire Value Chain and redefining the way value is created(getting on base leads to wins)
- Dealing with early losses and still getting the organization to stay committed
- Getting rid of some of the players to set an example
- Create value from a supply market (players) that has been sourced by the competition already
The Moneyball reference to Epstein came up when he helped another unlikely team (Boston Red Sox) win two World Series titles back in 2004 and 2007. Theo’s approach is why the Cubs hired him in 2011 – to make the same magic happen. It has taken a while – making change happen is not easy and it does not happen overnight – but it really feels like progress has been made.
This may not be the Cubs year. We know we still have a long way to go (watch out St. Louis 🙂 !) but it sure is fun to at least have an “at bat”. The foundation has been set (the consonants) and now comes the hard part – committing to and following through on the vowels (Adoption, Execution, Implementation, Optimization and Utilization). This is how the dream becomes a reality and we Cubs fans can finally get our long awaited victory!!!!
Let us know what you thing and join in the conversation . . . . . . . .
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