Last week I had the incredible honor and pleasure to listen to the infamous Billy Beane. You may recognize Beane’s name from the popular book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. His story was later made into a movie starring Brad Pitt – a fun fact that he proudly reminded me of throughout his entertaining, motivational session.

Billy Beane is a true inspiration for countless analytics professionals. His creative analytical approaches for finding high value, low cost baseball players with sabermetrics statistical combinations changed the sports world. Beane’s techniques also influenced how analytics is approached in the business world.

Moneyball changed the sports world

In 2006, Beane’s baseball team was ranked 24th out of 30 major league teams in player salaries but had the 5th-best regular-season record. He and his team assembled one of the most cost-effective teams in baseball using novel data-driven approaches that were widely attacked by baseball fanatics, players, peers, and the media. Beane was told by reigning leaders in his field that baseball was a sport where you watch with your eyes and use your gut to make decisions. His own family called him an idiot.

 

Billy Beane Sports Analytics

 

Beane held firm to his belief in data – even when it was not easy to do so. He refused to cave in to naysayers despite self-doubts and internal struggles along the way. Due to Beane’s  persistence, perseverance, and patience, he has since enjoyed immense payoffs. Today many more statistics are collected and combined in the constant quest for competitive advantage. The business of baseball, along with many other domains, has fully embraced the power of analytics.

Persistence, perseverance, and patience resulted in immense payoffs

 

Unkind Human Reality

Hearing the human story behind Moneyball and the cruel reality of what Beane had to endure to create positive change was touching. It was also shocking to imagine the use of metrics for making data-driven decisions was so harshly criticized and resisted. This change happened only a decade ago.

In addition to the innovative use of metrics, there are many other lessons that you can learn from Beane’s human experience with initiating change. Today it seems unfathomable that data would not be used when making high-stakes decisions. Tomorrow the change could be considering artificial intelligence, analytics augmentation or automation.

Change is essential for growing, improving, advancing yourself and your organization. Your ability to maximize your performance and productivity depends on your ability to change in positive ways.

“If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.” Margaret Spellings

Be a Positive Change Agent

Change is a deeply human process. To bring forth change, persistence means you must maintain your determination and drive to achieve your goals consistently. Perseverance refers to your ability to respond constructively to inevitable setbacks in the change process. Patience is crucial since change takes time.

A change agent is anyone who helps an organization transform by improving business processes. Usually analytics professionals are agents of change but not necessary managers of change. Regardless, it helps to understand the human dynamics of organizational change.

In a recent McKinsey Global Survey, organizations reporting successful change were nearly eight times more likely to use the influence model shown below. McKinsey covered this topic in an article along with an introduction to the four change building blocks: what they are, how they work, and why they matter.

Change Agent

If you want to learn more about organizational change management to become a better agent of analytical change, there are a plethora of digital transformation resources, organizational change management articles, courses, books, tools and techniques available. To get insight on macro-level, global changes, I recommend following the World Economic Forum Center – Fourth Industrial Revolution.