I watched the new movie ‘Moneyball’ over the weekend. The film is based on Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill’s characters who form a baseball scouting system whereby players are picked solely on their playing statistics, and nothing else.
Their most favourite metric was a player’s ability to get ‘on base’ which basically shows how good they are at hitting the ball and getting for first base.
The two scouts became so obsessed that this was the only metric worthwhile looking at that they bought old, injured and out-dated players, and cut out some of the most high profile members from their squad in pursuit of forming the ideal team.
It got me thinking about our own human obsession with metrics and KPIs, and my own need to follow certain data metrics in day-to-day life, and I started wondering… “Does this obsession ever become too much, and do we pursue these numerical goals sometimes to the detriment of the ‘bigger picture’?”.
Is it OK for a team scout to cut a player based on their low ‘on base’ percentage, even though they were a popular player and drew a large ticket sales from the local fans?
Is it OK to recruit another player who has a high ‘on-base’ percentage, even though they’re a womaniser and a drunk, and would soon be seen on the front page of the newspaper walking out of a brothel with a bottle of scotch in-hand?
Is it OK to go against the opinions of the long-standing scouts, putting them off-side as they form a band of enemies against the club?
Is it OK to do these things in pursuit of one publicly important but extremely narrow goal, or is it more important to step back to look at the bigger goal — the greater good?
Great film, by the way.