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Thursday, 14 July 2011

It's a bit late for Moneyball

If we use the (admittedly only recently introduced) ‘Hollywood-Cartwright’ ‘Sports in Movies’ Scale, then what sports clubs should be looking for - when they are searching for a competitive advantage, vs their nearest competitors - should be something that sets them apart, something new (yet effective), something the world is not ready for (yet accepts fully in its appearance).....
Think along the lines of ‘The Swahshank Redemption’ (initially skeptical audience now totally in love with its effectiveness), or “There’s Something about Mary” (no real fanfare on launch, followed by plenty of fanfare - and subsequent copying)....
What qualifies as a high scorer on the HCSIM Scale (see above for acronym detail) is one that is new / initially relatively unheard of / no major promotion - yet delivery outstanding results....

Avatar - with a huge marketing budget, massive word of mouth - whilst delivering big results for the studio - does not score highly on the Hollywood-Cartwright scale - due to the fact that everyone was aware of it, everyone was going to watch it.
Confused maybe??  No real issue there - as the Hollywood/Cartwright (Sports in Movies) Scale is pretty unheard of itself (supporting its own raison d’etre)...  So - in the interests of giving our audience an insight track (yet keeping the detail well below the radar) - some explanation follows.....
Every sports club wants to win....  And those that want to win, will always be looking for ways to generate advantages over their opponents.  Those advantages can be almost anything - generating more cash, buying better players, recruiting better managers (or coaches, or commercial directors, or kit man), developing the best academy structures, finding technological advantages to deliver better results, recruiting world leading physios or trainers to deliver improved physical and physiological results, finding brave new techniques for tactics, training, work practices - the list is pretty much endless.....
But what makes a club truly stand out is if it can find an advantage that its competitors does not have access to.....  Taking on a new type of coach (Mourinho and his new age methodologies), starting a new tactic (the move from 2-3-5 way back when or Bill Walsh’s introduction of the West Coast Offense), training in ice-baths (whoever did that first) - etc etc....  
If everyone is doing it - then the only advantage you can earn is by doing it better than everyone else (and this is where the aggregation of marginal gains theory is effective - find 1%’s on everything yo do and you can eke out 10% - or more -  over your less effective opponents) ............... find something that sets you apart however - and you can blow those 1%’s out the water .....
And this is where the HC Sports in Movies Scale kicks in - any movie that delivers unplanned success / that outperforms expectations by a mile - is one that highlights how sports clubs can find success - find a formula that no one is copying, that no one is banking on to deliver success...
So - neatly tidying this all up - with the point - at the end of the blog with a view on 

A - a movie
B - a movie about sports
C - a movie about sports about finding advantages vs your competitors
Not a sleeper.....
- I have heard more people talking about Moneyball (a book about how the Oakland A’s delivered success beyond expectation by implementing a revolutionary statistical approach to recruitment) in the past few weeks than at any time in the past.  More and more people seem to be using it as a model for success for recruitment for their clubs (and hence expectation that it will deliver success) - which (if you believe the hype above) is really really unlikely to happen (as everyone is doing it!!!).
Following a strategy that has is now close to 10 years old (even a strategy that was originally designed to set you apart) is NOT going to deliver you the results you search for (unless you can do it 1% better than your competitors)....  You need to plow your own route and find a new way of standing out.....
Hence, getting back to the Hollywood/Cartwright Sports in Movies Scale - Moneyball (despite being a kind of MS Escher painting - it’s a movie about differentiating yourself in sports being used as a low scorer in a scale on Movies related to differentiating yourself in sports) is not a big scorer on the scale...
  • It’s got lots of hype
  • It stars one of the biggest movie stars of all time
  • Everyone will hear about it before it launches
  • It won’t be a sleeper hit (tho’ it still may be a hit)
Now this has been quite a struggle to get through I am sure - but - just like finding competitive advantages in sports - it was never going to be easy....

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