Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category
My wife got a book called The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis, is one of the 100. Instead of reading the synopsis, I decided to read the whole book.
The Oakland Athletics managed to have success in Baseball while having one of the lowest overall budgets. They did this by identifying the characteristics that were the most important for winning baseball games and hiring people with those talents, many of whom lacked other, less important, skills. Other teams overlooked these players either because they undervalued the critical skill, overvalued the less important skills or simply because they didn’t fit the teams’ image of what constituted a “real” baseball player.
Now that I’ve read the book, I’m wondering how much companies overpay to get skills that don’t make a significant difference in their overall throughput.
It might be interesting for a manager to ask the question “if I had 20% less to spend on my team’s salaries, how would I do that”.
What are the core skills you think critical to your team’s success? What characteristics or skills are less important? Where are you missing skills you need? Where do you have an overabundance of skills? What skills are you willing to pay a premium to get? What skills are you paying to much for?
How do you know what skills are really worth paying for? Do you have any quantitative information to back up your decision?
Would the most important people on the team be the ones who were best able to train and develop others, so you could bring more college new-hires onto the team?
If you had to cut 20% of the total salary (not people) across your team (assuming you had total freedom to move people in and out of your organization) do you think you could do it? Could you be spending you money more effectively?
Note: I’m not suggesting you cut your team’s salary by 20%. I think it is a worthwhile exercise to get you thinking about who you hire, how much you pay and why.
I don’t follow baseball, but found this book interesting and provocative. I’d definitely recommend it to someone thinking about how to staff their teams effectively. If having a big bank account was the critical deciding factor in being a good baseball team, Oakland would never have made the playoffs. But they did.
The amount you have to spend on your team may not be as large as it has been in the past, but by rigorously looking at what you really need, can you still be as effective?