I don’t know about you but I really enjoy watching movies, and lately it seems like some of my favourites from days gone by have been on the tube again. Movies like Zoro, K-pax and Moneyball. As I was watching Moneyball, it had been a few years, I found myself intrigued once again by the philosophy behind this flick and I couldn’t help but draw some comparisons to the Mission. I found similarities, I pondered, and I asked myself some questions. I like this movie a lot, but before I share all of my ‘revelations’ with you, I think I should give you a quick recap of the movie.
This film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Actor and Best Picture. Moneyball is based on a true story and takes place during the 2002 major league baseball season. Oakland A’s (Athletics) general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) challenges the system and defies conventional wisdom when he is forced to rebuild his small-market team on a limited budget. Despite opposition from the old guard, the media, fans and their own field manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Beane – with the help of a young, number-crunching, Yale-educated economist (Jonah Hill) – develops a roster of misfits…and along the way, forever changes the way the game is played. In the end Beane does the unthinkable; he gets the A’s to the playoffs and while it costs the New York Yankees 126 million to get their 103 wins (tied for best in the league with the A’s), he gets the same amount of wins with only a 40 million dollar payroll.
Basically the strategy goes something like this: Having lost the teams most valued players; Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen, the chances of going to the playoffs again in 2002, as in the season before, seem very bleak. His budget has been greatly reduced and so with the help of Pete (Jonah) a new system of ‘scouting’ is put into place. In a sense, the plan is to look for players with a specific ability or skill that have been discarded or written off by other teams for various reasons.
Billy takes a different approach, looking not at what a player was capable of in the past or in their ‘best years’, but at what they still can do. He makes a variety of trades with other teams taking their cast offs and building his team around them. The team he finally fields is made up of players with an unorthodox style, players with injuries, players with attitude issues, and so on. In the end, and though they fall short of becoming the World Series Champions, they still win the pennant and set a major league record of 20 straight regular season wins in the process!
By now you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with Souls Harbour Rescue Mission. Well, I’m thinking of staff, and for starters I simply love the idea of looking at people’s strengths and not their weaknesses. There is a philosophy ‘out there’ that says that when it comes to improving yourself (or developing other people), we need to focus on the weaknesses, improving those because our strengths alone won’t carry us. You’ve heard the saying; ‘You’re only as strong as your weakest link.’
Or what about this cliché; ‘You can’t put a square peg in a round hole.” Today, I think that for the most part we’ve decided to solve this human resources issue by going out and getting a round peg. But…. what if we could change the shape of the hole instead? I mean, some leaders don’t lead like everyone else. And, it’s a given that changing an artist into an administrator probably doesn’t turn out that well. Some people are process oriented and some like to ‘walk it out’ instead. So, other than going out and getting the round peg, looking at the hole’s shape becomes the only other viable option. Very interesting isn’t it?
Anyway, having just finished the Mission’s Managers and Executive retreat, I’m finding myself assessing my staff and looking at their roles differently. I have a great executive team and as I reflect on each person’s uniqueness, I’m looking at their greatest gift or ability, and wondering how I can enhance that? I can’t just dismiss the job description and its requirements, but for the most part a pitcher is as pitcher, yet the style may differ. That’s what I’m looking for. Like Billy, I’m confident that I can build an even better team based on my player’s individual strengths!
In my next blog, I’ll tell you all about my teams next ‘Championship Run’ and the goal that we have set before us. Very new. Very cutting edge. Very exciting. Stay tuned, the Samaritan Project is on the way!