The Power of “Plan B” – Revisiting Moneyball

It happens all the time.  Someone will ask me “have you read _______?”  Frequently, sadly, I have to say “no, I have not read that one.”  It always makes me feel like an uneducated idiot.  After all, I’m the book guy.  If it is important to catch up fast, I make my call – to Bob Morris (our blogging colleague, book-reviewer extraordinaire), and ask, “have you read ____?”  He almost never says “no,” and he tells me enough that I feel like I’ve got a start.

Other times, I say “Yes.”  And it is the truth.

But the best answer I can give is this one (this is when I feel like it’s my lucky day): “Yes, I’ve read it and presented it at the First Friday Book Synopsis.”

Well, recently someone asked me if I had read Moneyball by Michael Lewis.  That was one of the good days.  It was a “Yes, I’ve read it and presented it at the First Friday Book Synopsis” day.  I presented this book back in November, 2003.

Moneyball:  The Art of Winning an Unfair Game is Michael Lewis’ account of the miracle of a very good baseball team, the Oakland Athletics (the A’s), who competed with the big boys with a whole lot less money at their disposal.  It had to do with finding talent that others did not find, reading statistics in  a whole new way, making do with what you could afford – and competing at the highest level.  The lessons for all in business are significant.

I remembered plenty, but in revisiting my handout, I found this summary of a portion of the book’s contents.  This is useful counsel.

Follow these principles:

• When you don’t have the resources, you have to go to plan B

• Find a plan B that works

• There is a plan B that works – if you look hard enough
• Chances are it is not known by the “long-timers’
• Chances are that you have to bring in true “outside help”

• Numbers are more reliable than intuition, tradition, emotion, or…
• or – “who cares how they look in jeans”

• Don’t forget that you are in a competition
• value surprise

• do what works, not what you “like”

• The aggregate is more important than the lone/the individual


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