August 19th, 2014
Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, is not only a great baseball movie, it’s an extraordinary tutorial on management, a spellbinding story about Billy Beane, newly appointed GM of the Oakland Athletics, struggling to buck the traditional way of building and managing a baseball team.
Billy Beane, in 1998, had just become general manager of the A’s. Under new ownership, he was constrained with one of the smallest payrolls in baseball. Circumstances compelled him to disrupt the A’s to compete with the New York Yankees, which sported the largest payroll in baseball and had just hired Oakland’s remaining superstars. The A’s were gutted.
Beane had to recruit overlooked, undervalued, inexpensive unknowns and has-beens. He scrapped the old system of evaluating players by appearance, popularity, and perceived value, in favor of one built on sabermetrics, invented by baseball outsider Bill James, which mathematically analyzes every player’s ability to get on base — regardless of his grace or physical condition.
Click with the Clique
People always resist change, especially when it means standing out from the clique. Beane’s direct reports — his scouts, coaches, and field manager — called him crazy and fought him at every turn. They warned him not to discard a 150-year management tradition, despite its huge flaws and failures. Beane told them to adapt or die.
Branding is exactly like this. It’s very political, as I explain in Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding. For example, CEOs find it difficult to end their companies’ use of jargon. Sometimes, they give up fighting their employees. Other times, they are the chief jargonistas, refusing to change — because every competitor does likewise. Click with the clique.
CEO: Branding Firewall
Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher of the 19th century, posited that all truth passes through three stages:
When instituting management upheaval, such as blocking jargon, your employees and industry colleagues will ridicule and violently oppose it. Expect the same from the media. This is when you, like Billy Beane, must stand firm to take their slings and arrows.
Become your company’s branding firewall: block all jargon (producting) and permit only value propositions to flow outward and external feedback inward (branding). When you succeed, as Billy Beane did, everyone will amazingly accept your “crazy” ideas as self-evident truths. Your employees will continue to run on the jargon wheel; you will block their jargon.
The Boston Red Sox were so impressed with Billy Beane’s guts to stand alone, as well as his consequent success, they generously offered him the GM position, which he declined.
Bill James, the nutty “outsider” who invented sabermetrics and, according to snarky insiders, had no business trying to change baseball, now works for the Red Sox.
Finally, all of baseball uses Billy Beane’s “untraditional” operating principles.
For Billy Beane, being unique now means finding another new way to buck tradition. And, so it goes. Are you inspired to try Billy Beane branding?
About the Author
Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of the book,
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.
© 2014 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.