Bucks Diary

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The ironic misconception about the book Moneyball


Ever since the fascinating book Moneyball came out a couple of springs ago, the term "Moneyball" has become synonymous with statistical analysis. This wrongheaded notion is dripping with irony, because misconceptions like that are the actual theme of the book.

At its essence, author Michael Lewis' Moneyball is just an update of the old tale "The Emperor Has No Clothes". It is a book about how conventional thinking or conventional methods becomes codified into accepted, unquestioned practices in nearly every competitive industry (in the particular case the industry just happened to be Major League Baseball... but Lewis clearly argued that the thinking behind the A's methods could be applied by any small competitor in any industry) and how such conventions can be uncovered and exploited by aggressive, smaller competitors to overtake their larger, better financed foes.

Statistical analysis is certainly one way to go about it. But Lewis makes it clear that market inefficiencies can be uncovered and disproven using any method at all. The book is about the attitude and daring that one must have to even attempt such a strategy.

Lewis argues that if you can muster up the nerve, and if you don't mind being shunned and being the target of ridicule in your line of work, then you can find inefficiencies and use them to take down even your biggest rivals. That's the Moneyball message, and its the message I've tried to make the central theme of this blog. I think its the Bucks best chance to return to glory.

So remember, "Moneyball" is not a method, its a state of mind. And it isn't exclusive to sports or to statistical nerds. Fortune favors the brave. Whenever you run across anything "conventional", whether it be a method of operation, a belief... any kind of sacred cow of any kind... have the courage to ask "Why?" and you'll often put yourself on the path to discovering ways you can gain a decisive advantage over your competition.

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