Billy Beane revolutionised baseball. The team he managed – The Oakland Athletics were one of the poor relations in their league. Before the 2002 season started, they lost 3 of their star players to bigger clubs who could offer more money and Beane knew he had to try something different.
So with some help from Harvard-educated statistician Paul DePodesta, he came up with a system which used statistics to focus on previously undervalued skills in players.
In his own words – “it’s all about evaluating skills and putting a price on them. Thirty years ago, stockbrokers used to buy stock strictly by feel. Let’s put it this way: Anyone in the game with some money has a choice. They can choose a fund manager who manages their retirement by gut instinct, or one who chooses by research and analysis. I know which way I’d choose.”
The reaction, as depicted in the 2011 film Moneyball (with Brad Pitt as Beane) was the most interesting part though.
Some people got really angry about it, claiming Beane was destroying the beautiful game of baseball.
Some people gave it a cautious welcome, but wanted to give it more time before they gave it their full backing.
Others, such as the owner of the Boston Red Sox, loved it straight away, and when Beane turned down his record offer of $12.5m to join that famous institution, found someone else to implement the system, and ended a 86 year-drought by winning the World Series 2 years later.
It reminded me of the reaction during the 2018 World Cup, when VAR (video assistant referee) was introduced for the first time.
Some people got really angry about it, claiming it was destroying the beautiful game of soccer.
Some people gave it a cautious welcome, but would like to see it tweaked before they backed it fully.
Others loved it straight away, focusing on the sporting drama and equality it has brought to the game.
And it’s the same when any new thing is introduced, be it a new restaurant opening in your town, a new venue for a gig, or a new system you’re going to use in work. Some will hate it, some won’t be sure, and some will love it.
The thing is though, no matter what the new thing is or where and how it introduced, it’s often the same people who have the same reactions.
Do you embrace new technology or do you wait until it becomes more mainstream?
Or do you generally prefer things the way they were? Why?
It’s worth assessing and then appraising your attitude to new things. It might help you make better decisions about them.