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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

We Need to Play Hardball

I’ve got to admit something to everyone . . .  I’m not that bright. Not all of the time, mind you, not even most of the time, but every now and then, I’m an out-and-out idiot. Like the time my friend Scott asked me to read the book “Moneyball” (This was back in 2003 when Michael Lewis first released the book.)  “But, I’m not a big baseball guy,” I said. He replied “It’s not about baseball. It’s about data.” And, I put it on my reading list, and then still did not read it. I even bought the book, but still failed to read it. That was a mistake, a BIG mistake.

What Scott forgot to mention about the book is how similar building successful baseball teams is to building successful businesses. Nine years later, in January of this year, my two sons (who both play and love baseball) asked me if we can rent Moneyball on DVD.  It’s the only time I’ve watched the same movie twice in two days. It’s not just because it was a great movie (it was), but because I felt I missed so much the first time, that I had to watch it a second time. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should stop reading this article and go watch it. I’m serious, go.

Some background – The book & movie is based on the true story of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, who has an epiphany that all of baseball’s conventional wisdom of how they go about building their teams is backwards.

Here is a quote from Beane talking to his staff that clearly explains the situation the A’s are faced with-   “The problem we’re trying to solve is that there are rich teams and there are poor teams, then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s us. It’s an unfair game. And now we’re being gutted, organ donors for the rich. Boston has taken our kidneys, Yankees takin’ our heart and you guys are sittin’ around talkin’ the same old good body nonsense, like we’re selling deeds. Like we’re looking for Fabio. We got to think differently.”

Like the Oakland As, businesses in Tama County are also working under constraints.  Often, big constraints.  Often, unfair constraints.  We can’t keep trying to beat competitors that are much bigger and better funded by playing their game.  Billy is right, to succeed we all need to think differently.  Playing the old way when you’re at a disadvantage is a sure-fire way to lose.

How do we begin to think differently in Tama County? What can you do? (Yes I am talking to you) Where do we start? Everyone in the county can start by SAVING THIS DATE ON YOUR CALENDAR Tuesday, November 13, 2012, at 5:30 p.m.  EVERYONE in Tama County needs to call our office 641-484-3108 and reserve your seat for this important event.

There is a scene in the movie at the end of the season where Billy is discussing what the A’s had accomplished with John Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox.  John said “You won the exact same number of games that the Yankees won, but the Yankees spent $1.4 million per win and you paid two hundred and sixty thousand. Anybody who’s not building a team right and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs. They’ll be sitting on the sofa in October, watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.”

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