Jim Collins and Brad Pitt

by Dr. Donald N. Sweet

What can business owners and CEOs learn from Moneyball?

The recent movie Moneyball has a number of examples for business owners and CEOs.  First and foremost, there are times when we need to redefine how we do business.  Sometimes long time employees can’t see that need.  New ways of looking at their world and new ways of operating are foreign and repulsive to them.

In those cases, we may need, as my partner Brad Lebo says, to free up the individual’s future.  We must, of course, be relatively certain we’re charting the best new direction, and then we must be committed to it.  Jim Collins might call this the twenty mile march mentality.  We set the goal and then stay the course to execute it.

Deal with reality by being open to new ideas.  Next we need to set realistic goals based on the empirical data.  Sounds like Collins again, when he suggests that we fire bullets, then cannonballs.  In Billy Beane’s case he was out of choices.  Things had to change.  His club had just had an exodus of top talent with little resource available to replace it.  Sound familiar?  We can substitute “top talent” with key customer, product obsolescence, hemorrhaging cash, etc.

Beane was managing at what Collins would call the Death Line. The only option was to recast the way the game was viewed and managed.  The team and how they played the game had to be managed differently if they were to be successful.

Those moves took guts.  Some might say desperation.  Nonetheless, when the environment in which we operate changes dramatically, we have to change the way we respond to it.  Both the movie Moneyball and Collin’s new book, “Great by Choice”, show executives successful ways to respond.