Moneyball: "you are solving the wrong problem".

Last Saturday, Lois and I went to see the movie Moneyball.  We highly recommend it.  We went mainly because we are Oakland A’s fans who happened to be at the Oakland Coliseum the night that the A’s won their 20th consecutive game.   We can still recall the exciting emotions of that night.  The A’s record winning streak was at the center of the story that the movie.

The most unprecedented thing about this movie might be that I am thinking of going to see it again.  I can’t remember when I watched a movie twice (my ADD won’t tolerate it).

If I do go to see it again, it will be to learn more from how Billy Bean confronts a broken system. His managers are stuck.  They try, over and over again, to solve the wrong problem.  It doesn’t help that, in the past, they actually had been successful.  They don’t recognize that the world in which the A’s must compete is no longer the same and the old strategies will no longer produce wins.

Over and over, I have found myself in broken systems, much like the one that leads Beane to quote Thomas Paine “a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

Billy Beane changes the A’s strategy only after coming up with a new understanding the problem.   The painful and emotionally shocking language he uses to deliver it to his managers doesn’t change the managers, but it frees him to begin to make the changes that transform the strategy and produce wins:
“The problem we’re trying to solve is that there are rich teams, and there are poor teams. Then there’s 50 feet of crap. And then there’s us. It’s an unfair game.”

I am linked to 3 or 4 organizations and movements whose successful and fruitful histories of serving God and others show that they can produce good things.   But right now, they need to change how they are doing what they do.  The playing field has changed and they need to change their strategy.  How to see the problem in new light?

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