Moneyball and negating experiencing

There is a scene in the movie Moneyball where the head scout is confronting Billy Beane about how his new system won’t work. This is the last conflict between the two about this topic as things have boiled over between them. One thing that stands out, the head scout says something along the lines of “You have a scout with 29 years of experience and a 25 year old college grad and you’re listening to the wrong one.”

The internal conflict with the head scout is leading to the external conflict between the two. His value, that 29 years of experience, suddenly has been brought to zero. If there is a formula for determining who should be scouted and who shouldn’t, there isn’t much room left for experience. The value now rests in improving formulas, tracking new stats and data to be used, programming computers, etc. All that is a skillset he doesn’t possess.

One of the reasons something new causes so much backlash is because people have to pick what they want to do with their life. They want it to add up to something. When something comes along after putting in decades of work and that something negates your value, it feels like everything was a waste. Lashing out is a natural effect of this. There is no way around this because what will happen 30 years from now is unpredictable.

The other issue is that this can happen in any industry. I’ve pointed it out in architecture before. When the right science shows up, becoming proven and well-understood, experience soon counts for much less. The science allows someone to predict what is likely to happen.

What can be learned from this:

  1. If you are making a big change, understand whose value is being diminished, you’ll likely identify the person or people who will be most resistant to the shift.
  2. Put in at least a minimal effort to understand where advances in science can shift the value in what you do. That way you can position yourself appropriately for maximum resilience.
  3. If you find science that can change everything, it will eventually anyway. The people most upset are those who least saw the changes coming.

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