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How to adopt a Moneyball mindset


What can baseball teach us about business and CPA firms?

Yesterday at the CCH Users Conference in San Antonio, we got to see "the kid" from the movie "Moneyball," Paul DePodesta (now with the New York Mets), tell us how we can adopt a "moneyball mindset."

How about beating the odds and overcoming limited resources to beat competitors much bigger and with more resources than you?

By now, you should have heard about the hit movie, Moneyball or the bestselling book by Michael Lewis, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, the true story of how Billy Beane turned the Oakland A's into one of the most successful teams in baseball with the lowest payroll.

Wouldn't we all like to do that?

DePodesta offered some great insights on how we can adopt a Moneyball mindset:

  1. Ask the naive question (from Peter Drucker): "If we weren't already doing it this way, is this the way we would start?" Processes were put in place at a time for a reason, but have they outlived their purpose? Be willing to question everything and test what you think you know.
  2. Be the House: Paul told a Las Vegas gambling story that highlighted efficient systems, measurement, and knowing the odds. While some may have that lucky streak, the House always wins in the long run. How can you be the House?
  3. A willingness to try anything: Forget "best practices" and be willing to find "next practices." Keep what works and throw out the rest.
  4. Look around: Go outside your industry to look for new ideas and innovations.
  5. Confidence: Paul talked about the A's realistic optimism that drove their decision to try this radical new method to running a baseball team. Believe in yourself, your team and your mission.
  6. Consistency and culture: Once they had the right approach, they built it deep into their culture and made it part of who they are. Not the specifics of the system, but the principles and values of the Moneyball mindset -- constant open-mindedness and constant learning, chasing the next horizon and being the first to get there.

He finished with this quote from Thomas Kuhn from the Structure of Scientific Revolutions"The proliferation of competing articulations, the willingness to try anything, the expression of explicit discontent, the recourse to philosophy and to debate over fundamentals, all these are symptoms of a transition from normal to extraordinary research.”

Being innovative does not mean tweaking inefficient systems or incremental changes. It means the willingness to seek new solutions, to try new things that are capable of taking you from ordinary to extraordinary and then measuring the results and questioning what's next.

That's what DePodesta means by adopting a Moneyball mindset. 

What do you think? Does this apply to business?