Posts Tagged ‘Resistance’

Moneyball: Throwing the System a Change-up

October 31, 2011 2 comments

baseballFor a story about statistics, the movie Moneyball is remarkably effective in exposing the emotional side of systems change.

The film is based on the eponymous bestselling book by Michael Lewis. It chronicles the surprising success of the 2002 Oakland A’s after their general manager, Billy Beane, adopted a “sabermetric” approach to player selection, with the help of a young statistician schooled in Bill James’s data-driven baseball philosophy.

The first emotion we encounter is despair as Beane recognizes the futility of trying to compete for star players with  big-market teams whose payrolls dwarf the one he has to work with. But out of that despair comes Beane’s willingness to look at non-traditional techniques (to innovate), and his curiosity about what success factors might be hidden beneath the surface in the statistical details. The data offers up a promising leverage point for change: On-base percentage (OBP), and Beane proceeds to build his strategy around it.

The next emotions we see are confusion and anger, as the team’s long-serving scouting and talent development staff react to Beane’s new plan. Their response will be recognizable to anyone who has tried to implement change in a deeply entrenched system. The scouts can’t believe that anyone would dismiss their carefully-considered player assessments after all the time and effort they’ve expended on behalf of the organization. They feel betrayed; and their resistance creates a balancing force that threatens to stop the change in its tracks.

But, the emotion that wins the day is courage, as Beane and his young protégé/mentor stick with their plan despite delays in the system that deny immediate gratification, because the success of the new strategy can only be measured over time. In the end, their patience and persistence are rewarded with widespread joy, as the team wins their division—although they fall short of the ultimate prize of a World Series win.

The result of this experiment was not just a turnaround for the A’s that season, but a sea change in the way major league baseball evaluates and develops talent. Of course, once OBP and other statistical leverage points were brought to light, the teams with deeper pockets could exploit them, too (as the Red Sox did with their World Series victory two years later). So, the A’s and other small-market teams are back in the position of having to find innovative ways to win in a system whose lopsided disparities in buying power continue to breed frustration and, happily, a healthy dose of determination.

Shape Change

March 8, 2011 1 comment

ReactiveIn working on various writing and editing assignments over the years, I’ve made extensive use of the “Track Changes” feature in Microsoft Word. And I occasionally find myself smiling with amusement when selecting the menu option “Accept Change.” If only it were that easy!

From big changes, like sending a child off to college, to little ones, like adapting to a new mobile phone, all of us experience resistance to change at one point or another. Most challenging are the changes that we perceive as coming from outside ourselves—changes done to us, rather than initiated by us.

At work and in our personal lives it’s so easy to surrender to the idea that we don’t have a choice in change. But, I tend to agree with Maya Angelou, who suggests that we always have the power to choose something when she says, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

In a recent conversation, a client and I made an entertaining discovery about the word “reactive” that inspired me to develop this little animation about my orientation to change. It’s less than a minute long. I hope it gives you a smile.