Archives For innovation

This post is Innovate Like Moneyball Part 2 so try to read that first.

I recently heard a great spot on NPR from Frank DeFord about the fascination with Jeremy Lin, the Asian-American New York Knicks basketball sensation.  Jeremy Lin has become the latest version of Tim Tebow.  Anyone looking at his previous stats would say he was an average backup player to having no chance at an NBA career at all.  Pretty soon, scouts will be saying things about their recruits as having “The Lin Factor”.  It’s that special thing about him that gets fans excited while executing on the court (or field) in an amazing way.

In Moneyball fashion, can a statistician find a Jeremy Lin?

Perhaps, but it would be a long shot and they’d need some divine help. Here is why.

Life and business can be only calculated so much.  I’m asked all the time in marketing from clients how we can have better “quantifiable” results.  It always amuses me because a client definitely wants life to be put together in an organized fashion that they can control like a wizard.  Don’t we all, especially when money and reputation is at stake?

Left photo: Tim Tebow. Credit: Barry Gutierrez / Associated Press Right photo: Jeremy Lin. Credit: Frank Gunn / Associated Press

A statistician would say that people like Doug Flutie, Tim Tebow, or  Jeremy Lin are flukes.  They rose to the occasion when given the chance and delivered but their overall stats might be considered mediocre.

Ultimately life and business should be both about quantifiable and qualitative results.  That is how the best research is done to understand stats and behavior.

Clients say they want the “Lin Factor”,”Apple Factor”, or “Nike Factor” for their brand.

Can you quantify how to get that?  That’s not the point. We should celebrate the statistician and the scout equally.  When working well together, that “Factor” can happen and I’ve seen it time and time again with teams I am a part of.

The result can be “greatness”.  And you know it when you see it.

 

 

 

Innovate like Moneyball

September 28, 2011 — 9 Comments

Confession:

I have a romantic love affair with Baseball.  It may be weird to you but it isn’t to me.

I left my baseball love, St. Louis, seven years ago to move down and be with wife Brooke. I have quite enjoyed Nashville but the physical distance from St. Louis baseball only grew my love for the game.  Nashville unfortunately isn’t known as a baseball town but when I meet another “real” fan of the game, we immediately are friends regardless our favorite team.  These days, I follow box scores like it is my balance sheet.

Brooke and I just watched Moneyball (2011) starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.  This is based on MIchael Lewis’ bestselling 2003 book.  Hands down, this is the finest baseball movie since Bull Durham/Field of Dreams.  Critics call Moneyball the baseball movie for nerds but I think it is made for all of us.  It has inspired me to act and here is why.

If you have not see the movie, here is a summary.  Faced with putting together a baseball roster 1/4 the budget of the NY Yankees, General Manager of the Oakland A’s Billy Beane had enough.  Year after year, he would develop amazing players only to be robbed by them in free agency by rich teams like the Yankees or Red Sox.  Instead of drafting players solely by basic stats like batting average, home runs, and RBIs, with assistance,  he employed computer-generated analysis and found a better way to rate players. This idea stressed the greater importance of “on base percentage” (hits plus walks and being hit by pitches), which gives their team a statistical advantage over time.  And it worked albeit with heavy opposition of the idea for his first season in 2002.

Was it easy?  No.

Did the “establishment” scouts cry foul and think he was crazy?  Yes

Moneyball should awaken the “innovative spirit” within all of us.  Whether in business, school, personal life, church, or your little league team, we must pay attention to the dragon that needs to be woken in us.

I lead a marketing team in publishing and there isn’t a day that goes by when I just wish there was a standard to go by.  Marketing Plans I wrote only 6 months ago can seem archaic compared to what is needed in today’s complex publishing environment.  I think in “context” so it is particularly harder for me to stretch to innovate and think through better ways of doing things.  But the past is the past and we can still learn from it.  But…

The world is changing faster than I’m writing these words.

So here is where we go.  Here is where I need to go with you.

When someone says “that’s just the way it it is” or “that’s how it worked before”…

Pause.

Question the status quo.

Focus on the outcome and that will tell you how to play in today’s world. 

If it didn’t work today; research, try, fail, try again, and keep learning.  You will get there.  But you can’t just keep pulling out the “driver” when you need what you really need is to hit a cut 3 iron. (I apologize for the golf lingo, I can’t help myself)

Innovate and swing away.