I haven’t forgiven baseball for the strike, but after 20 years in the Bay Area I still have a soft spot for the A’s and the Giants. With the recent release of Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, the A’s are back in the spotlight. Here in the NY Metro area, a reference to the genius of Billy Beane is likely to be countered by either “How many championships has he won?” or “It’s easy to be smart with Hudson, Mulder and Zito on the mound.” And I agree that the Beane’s analytical style of management is overrated.
However, Beane’s willingness to think different and take an independent course is vastly underrated. Baseball is an old-fashioned sport, set in it’s ways. Where else would a 72-year old Jack McKeon be brought on to rescue a floundering franchise? Beane is able to operate in his counterparts’ blind spots by thinking different. And that allows him to build a superior team on a limited budget.
There is a value to thinking different in business as well. If you commit to a common business approach, then you also commit to a well defined competition on a level playing field. But if you’re willing to think different and act different, then you might just tilt the field to your advantage.