Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Hate to lose more than you love to win ?

A few days ago, I watched ‘Moneyball’, starring Brad Pitt, acting as a forty-something failed baseball player turned team manager, and Jonah Hill, playing his twenty-something nerdish assistant. If you haven’t watched the movie yet, it’s about an interesting concept. That a high performing team is not necessarily the one with star players. That a team constituted with the appropriate basic skills required for scoring many runs, has more than a fighting chance to win as well. And further, that if star players can’t be bought or retained, then it’s logical to opt for players with the right basic skills that together make a magic formula. Since, as Jonah Hill argues, the latter are “ignored by the richer teams, can be bought cheaper, and are probably easier to manage”.

A remarkable true story, the movie could be an inspiration for all those organisations, groups and teams which find themselves, at one time or another, to be, like Brad Pitt describes, “organ donors for the rich”. Who lose their best people to more moneys and bigger names. The romantic appeal of the triumph of the underdog notwithstanding, it’s the slogan of ‘when in Rome, if you can’t beat the Romans at their game, then do what the Romans don’t’, that captivates the rebel in me. So does the outlandish claim by Hill that, "the best people leaving is the best thing that could happen to the team since it opens up new possibilities".

Many service organisations, in a bid to proactively check the rising employee costs and minimise the possibility of future lay-offs, routinely execute on the principles of ‘push the job down’, ‘backfill with cheaper’, and 'do more with less'. Basically, they keep redrawing their lines of labour division and their lines of skill grouping. Then define and staff roles accordingly. To do that, they keep their processes of hiring, promoting, career moves and succession in step with the new lines. So long as the ‘pyramid and skills refresh’ exercises are done well, the organisations continue to maintain, and sometimes even to enhance their performance levels. Just like Pitt’s and Hill’s team did. Manufacturing and other organisations should certainly take more than a leaf out of this book.
To me, the movie was also about one more thing. During a particular scene, Brad Pitt shouts, “I hate losing more than I love winning”.
That’s probably why he didn’t cut his losses and abandon a sinking ship. That’s probably why he risked his entire future on a whacky new idea from a whacky young kid. That’s probably why he persisted with his direction despite initial failures. That’s probably why the owner of the team supported him when nobody else did. That’s probably why, after the eventual triumph of his lack-lustre team, he didn’t take up the unbelievably lucrative offer from a very rich rival team.
That’s probably also why his daughter proudly and happily sang, “you’re a loser, dad; such a loser dad”.
Pitt’s and his daughter’s words resonate with me. I fancy myself as one, and am drawn to such people, rather than to those who love winning more than they hate losing. For much the same probable reasons. That’s what put the movie right up there for me.
“I’m a loser, guys; such a loser, guys”.
Are you one too ? No problem if you aren’t. After all, it takes all kinds of trees to make a forest.


  1. PD boss excellent post. Movie fulfills its purpose if it is viewed in this way. Their soundboard function is, sometimes. more important to me than their 'entertainment' function. That's why I am banned from watching TV with the family.

    I see you have not turned off word recognion.

    1. Thanks again. Have no clue about the word recognition bit and have given up. Please bear with me on this. After the google privacy policy changes, my email address has also disappeared from my blogger profile. Tried stuff about that as well. And guess what ? Failed.