A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend the Human Capital Institute, (HCI), Talent Acquisition Strategies event in New York City. One of the highlights of the event was the closing presentation given by New York Mets executive, Paul DePodesta, who you may remember from the Moneyball book and movie. DePodesta was an assistant to Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane during the years profiled in the book and film, (in the film, the Jonah Hill character was based on DePodesta).
With the success Moneyball, both book and film, plenty of opportunity and time has been spent on analyzing the process that Beane and DePodesta undertook to determine some less well understood keys to winning baseball games, and then to find and recruit undervalued (by the rest of the teams), talent to help them execute their competitive strategy. As I am sure you know by now, the A's were very successful for a period of years, though they fell short of winning the ultimate championship, despite a relative lack of resources compared to the traditional league powers like the Yankees or Red Sox. If you have somehow been under a rock for the last few years and are not familiar with Moneyball, I highly recommend the book, and sort of recommend the movie, (the book was better).
I don't dredge this all up again to try and re-tell the Moneyball story, or try to wax philosophical about how some of the ideas from Moneyball can be applied in the workplace, or to talent management, (lord knows we have had plenty of that), but rather to share a comment made by Mr. DePodesta during the question and answer portion following his presentation at HCI. An audience member asked, essentially, since Moneyball, and the concepts, process, methods utilized by Beane and himself were now widely understood and copied, thus diminishing (or eliminating), the competitive advantage that the Moneyball approach provided, what did DePodesta think would be next, i.e. the logical successor to the Moneyball method, that perhaps would also offer significant and important advantage to the team that could figure it out, (and exploit it).
DePodesta paused just for a moment, then replied, (I am paraphrasing here), that the successor to Moneyball, which was at its core a different way of analyzing prior outcomes, or what has already happened in prior baseball games, and applying the analysis of that data to evaluate players and to form a team, would be a new and better way to predict which players would eventually grow into high performers. Baseball players are typically drafted and signed as young as 17 or 18 in the USA, and even earlier in many of the foreign countries where baseball teams recruit talent. Many of these players require 3, 4, or ever 5 years of seasoning before they are even ready to start playing in the Major League. Making more correct talent assessments of 17 year-old high school players than the next team is often the difference in building and sustaining a successful franchise, (and saving your job).
DePodesta would not really get into what specific traits or attributes he was thinking about that would be a better predictor of performance some years out into the future, but suffice to say that he and the Mets are spending time and effort in working out new, more, and better predictive models.
What if anything does this have to do with you, Mr. or Ms. Talent Professional?
Just a reminder that like Moneyball, most corporate secrets don't last for long, and the advantage that comes from being better than the competition at analyzing what already happened eventually whittles away to nothing. Every team, (or most anyway), eventually get in on that game. And a Brad Pitt movie makes sure of that.
Knowing what is going to happen next, or at least what is likely to happen next - that's when you are playing a different game than the rest of the league.