This weekend, many moviegoers and avid baseball fans around the country will be taking some time away from the grind of daily life to see Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill star in the film “Moneyball,” based on the 2003 Michael Lewis best seller that catapulted the Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane into the most outsized, polarizing and wealthy general manager in professional baseball.
Shortly after taking his current position as general manager of the Oakland Athletics, Beane became the lead evangelist for a new baseball orthodoxy he adapted from sabermetrics, a form of analysis pioneered by Bill James that emphasizes greater statistical analysis in the scouting and development of players. Instead of hiring old-time scouts, Beane hired an Ivy League nerd, drafted players nobody wanted and turned around a flailing franchise.
His success prompted copycats who admired Beane and his approach for its reliance on credible information, the process of analysis and the ability to question previously held assumptions.
Moneyball Approach Applied Elsewhere
What others quickly learned is that general sabermetric (or “Moneyball”) techniques are applicable not only to sports but to many aspects of life and business. Since the acclaim of his philosophy, many other baseball teams, other professional sports franchises and Fortune 500 companies have partially credited their respective successes to adapting the quantitative analysis approach to their businesses, while utilizing all of the resources and information available.
In an October 2008 New York Times op-ed, Beane, along with Newt Gingrich and Senator John Kerry, wrote about using sabermetric-style techniques for improving health care by focusing on data mining, statistical analysis, reducing medical errors and cutting costs. In an interview with ESPN in 2010, Beane said:
“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 a 401(k) 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.”
In today’s business world, information is power. Successful professional investigators can provide their clients with both the resources and the information available to help them make better-informed decisions. Unfortunately even today, any business deals that are consummated with “collective wisdom” or “gut instinct” can end up in litigation simply because the parties failed to do their homework and turn to a professional for due diligence research.
In today’s competitive marketplace, it is no longer manageable or healthy to “fly blind” into any business deal. Yes, the familiar “Trust, but Verify” motto is still applicable here—but verify only through credible resources that can provide you with the intelligence and analysis that you might not find on the Internet.
Beane chose data over intuition, but the key point here is that your analysis of the data is only as good as the information you put into it.