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What happens when you apply the "Moneyball" innovation to organizations?Copied Copy failed
Recently I needed to choose someone to be in charge of planning a new project for a certain company.
The planning period was three weeks.
This is enough time for one person to plan a project, if he/she has already a lot of experience. However, all of our most experienced members were already too busy to take on the project.
After careful consideration, I assigned the project to three members with zero experience. It was a bit of an adventure for me.
Three weeks later, these three members greatly exceeded my expectation and created an outstanding plan. Moreover, our client was quite satisfied with their plan as well.
The GM who Chose On-base Percentage Over Number of Home Runs
There is a movie called "Moneyball".
The film described that Billy Beane, the general manager (GM) of the Oakland Athletics major league baseball team, utilized statistical methods to build a champion team that regularly could go to the playoffs.
The Oakland Athletics was by no means a financially rich team.
There was the scenes of the film that three sluggers with high numbers of home runs and runs batted in were transferred to other teams.
Scouts who have served the team for many years discussed how to find a player who could hit home runs and bat runs in to fill the hole left by one of these players.
However, the GM Billy Beane said,
"It's impossible to find a replacement for him. Instead, we need to find several players to fill the hole he left.
Then he brought out a new indicator called "on-base percentage."
The statistical analysis the team employed was based on the idea that "in order to score points, you first have to get on base."
Then, he proposed hiring players who could steadily get on base, rather than big-shot players with impressive numbers of home runs and runs batted in.
These were the players that the veteran scouts hadn't even bothered to look at until now.
While the Oakland Athletics struggled at early stage in the season, they eventually had become league champions. Moreover, they went on to advance within one step of becoming world champions.
Changing Indicators also Changes the 20/60/20 Rule
The moment you change indicators is the moment your point of view is shifted.
When I selected the three members I mentioned earlier, my point of view was precisely shifted.
I asked myself, “Instead of using planning experience as an indicator, what if we brought in a completely new indicator?”
In Japan, we have a saying, "Where three people come together, [there be] the wisdom of Mañjuśrī (Buddhist bodhisattva of wisdom)." or in other words, "Three heads are better than one." It means that if three people get together and consult one another, they can produce amazing insight.
Also, organizational developer Clark Quinn had this to say in his article, "Learning's Role in Innovation":
Innovation is the product of an environment where ideas can gestate and interact.""
In short, by exchanging various ideas and hashing them out together, we can increase the likelihood of creating novel plans that have never been seen before.
Thus, rather than planning experience, I thought we could try using "the ability to frankly express their own ideas and concerns without fear" as an indicator.
I asked myself, "Which members could share the most questions and plans with me on a routine basis?" Several faces came up in my mind.
In addition, I brought in a secondary indicator aimed at increasing the amount of conversation. "Are they attached to the client company, and are they ambitious to let it succeed?"
The three people I assigned to this planning were those who could answer the question "Why do you want to do it?" in their own words to me.
After the presentation to the client had successfully been completed, I asked the three of them about their three week planning."
These are what they answered;
- We had a space to share our opinions and talk freely with one another
- We thought about the way how effectively we could make output our ideas and thoughts.
- We succeeded because we respected opinions of each member
- It was fun for us in talking among the three of us
I realized that they were able to freely express their own strengths while at the same time respecting one another.
Amidst calls for work-style reform, it may seem costly to assign three people to a single project.
However, not only did the results exceed my expectations, but also the members learned a lot through the process.
Because it brought both results and people development, I believe it was a worthwhile investment.
You often hear that people talk about the 20/60/20 rule.
However, the human resources of an organization are only distributed along this 20/60/20 division according to a certain specific indicator. If you apply a different indicator to the same population, you will be sure to obtain a different 20/60/20 distribution in this new dimension.
What kind of world might come into view if you change the indicators you apply to the people right before your eyes?
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