- Taking Teamwork Beyond Billy Beane’s Numbers
By Connie Williams
How do teams work best? How do you judge their potential for success?
Billy Beane came to talk to a conference of a client of ours this past week. The famous MoneyBall architect of assembling good, low cost baseball teams based on amazing statistical study and measurement spoke about data analysis and mining for decision making. No doubt about the success of Beane’s Oakland A’s, in terms of contending during the baseball season, but his teams routinely fall apart in the postseason. Even he admits that his system doesn’t work in the playoffs – he’s looking for “luck” in the postseason.
Meanwhile this year, the Boston Red Sox went from worst to first and walked away with a World Series trophy in 2013. Even though numbers really aren’t there. What won the day was something very different, and frankly, intangible. The things you can’t fully measure.
They based their success on chemistry and teamwork, more than pure numbers. They put their team together based on guys who wanted to be in Boston, who loved baseball and wanted to be part of a team. They put their team together with players who were motivated by intrinsic motivation, not the egoistic big star players who were out purely for individual glory.
If you are putting together a team to work together to achieve something new, consider the following lessons:
- The players were individually solid with a variety of skills but not superstars: Bringing diversely skilled, good players together can result in more than the sum of the parts.
- Each player was willing to step up for a team effort, rooting for his teammates to succeed: Pick your teams based on real commitment to the cause you are working for and to teammates.
- Team leaders were focused on creating a great team climate, encouraging positive attitudes and a strong work ethic: Bring optimism and fun while also providing discipline to the process.
- Mastery of the important little things every day puts you in a position to win: Focus on the details of a win today, every day and the future will take care of itself.
As the saying goes, not everything that can be measured is important. But not everything that is important can be measured. Intangibles of the environment, teamwork and commitment go way beyond the numbers. Or you’ll have to leave it to luck!