Frank Stein started the topic Get More Bang for Your Budget: Take Your Boss to Moneyball in the forum Smarter Government: Analytics to Outcomes 8 years, 4 months ago
Take your boss to go see the movie Moneyball. You probably already know that it stars Brad Pitt and has gotten great reviews. It has been playing since late September, so I’m not sure how much longer it will be in theaters. Here is the trailer from the movie:
This is the story of Oakland Athletics baseball GM Billy Beane, and how he uses analytics to build a successful World Series contender when faced with significant budget constraints. (Note the parallel with Government today.)
Michel Lewis, the author of the book Moneyball, and Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland Athletics base ball team and subject of the story spoke at the IBM Information on Demand conference 2 weeks ago in Las Vegas. They described how the 2001 A’s had some of the best players in the game when they played the Yankees for the World Series but they weren’t going to be able to hold on to them for 2002 due to free agency.
Beane said: “I remember thinking I will never have a collection of talent like this. What the heck are we gonna do? We knew they were gonna go (top players like Giambi, Damon, etc.). We knew the whole year that was gonna happen, but we were trying to find some solution and replace in the aggregate what they did. So, we scoured guys who had A skill, not five skills. And because we had no money…we had one of the lowest payrolls…we couldn’t afford to invest in the romance of a player, but really what they could do and with no biases for or against them, just their performance.”
“Quite frankly, if we were ever going to trust the mathematics, this was the time. We had nothing to lose!”
The moderator, Katty Cay of BBC, asked “How did you get to the right numbers?”
Beane responded, “If you’re following metrics that have no correlation to business success, or in our case, winning games, you’re in trouble. The older the business, the more challenges and the more traditional and conventional thought.
“Baseball started in the mid 1800s. For us, it was simply put, out of necessity, if we had a dollar, where were we going to get the most efficiency from it….. So, they had to be the stats that correlated the most to winning.”
There are many parallels for government agencies in this movie. Not enough budget, high expectations on performance, resistance to change, making decisions on intuition rather than data. The more perceptive your boss, the more lessons for your agency he’ll draw from the movie.
Don’t want to go to the movie with your boss? Buy him the book. Moneyball by Michael Lewis.
If you’ve seen the movie, tell us whether you think it provides lessons for government today.
Director, IBM Analytics Solution Center
(To read more about the Lewis/Beane talk at IOD, see Todd Watson’s blog here.)
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