You’re not the New York Yankees!

At a recent conference, focused on digital transformation and customer engagement, I was impressed by both the roster of speakers and the discussions among the participants, including their reactions to the thoughts and suggestions proffered by speakers.  

But, after listening to keynote speakers talk about the need to “learn from the strategies of large global ‘network platform’ companies and the biggest banks, I couldn’t help but think back to a scene in the film “Moneyball” when Brad Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, tried to explain to his scouting staff why their plans to compete with the New York Yankees would fail.

In this early crucial scene, the scouts are trying to tell Billy Beane which available players should be signed by the A’s as replacements for “star players” who left to join the New York Yankees and other large revenue ballclubs that can afford to pay them much more than can the A’s. Beane points out, again and again, that those departed players cannot be replaced by the A’s because the A’s simply don’t have the resources to pursue the same competitive strategies as the wealthy ballclubs.  The A’s, according to Beane, must find another way to play, another way to compete, if they want to win.

“If we try to play like the Yankees in here, we will lose to the Yankees out there.”

Billy Beane had an epiphany regarding Baseball’s conventional wisdom.  He realized there was another way to compete, different from the way in which the Yankees, Red Sox and other large revenue teams went about it.  And he knew he had to employ that “other way” because his organization was smaller, less wealthy, and more susceptible to risk and financial failure than those big market teams. 

Beane had no other choice.  Given the A’s capabilities and resources and small margin for error, he had to ask and answer questions focused on the A’s real strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (the age-old standard approach to building a competitive strategy).

Credit Unions, like the Oakland A’s have no other choice but to find ways to compete that fit their competitive situation, their resources and their ability to absorb risk.  How do they do that? By asking fundamental questions that help you find your way to “your best self.”

Real learning starts when you ask questions relevant to your situation.

With Moneyball quotes running through my mind, I came away thinking just how important it is to ask questions regarding both content and context when people are sharing information and suggesting a path forward.

Asking about “content” helps you to confirm your understanding of what is being shared; but equally important (maybe more important) is the act of asking questions regarding the “context” of that content.  By this I mean “is the information being shared relevant to your situation?” To answer that question, you must ask a series of questions, all of which pertain to the state of your organization and how you can use the new information to help you act in your own environment.

The above is a long way to say “all of what you just said makes sense, now I need to determine if and how the information applies to my situation.  To do that I need to ask questions directly relevant to my world.”

When Thinking, Planning and Acting on the Challenges of Digital Transformation, Follow Your Own Lead.

Your organization isn’t JPMorganChase and you aren’t its CEO, Jamie Dimon.  In other words, you aren’t the New York Yankees. So, take note of what they do, but focus on you.  When building your plan to evolve successfully in this digital age, ask the questions that ground you in your environment and focus you on your capabilities, resources, opportunities and threats.  Ask yourselves…

  1. Do we know our transformation objectives and timelines? 
    • How much time do we have?
  2. What do we need to change to compete? 
    • In the Front and Back office? 
  3. How do we need to change it? 
  4. Do we know what to measure and how to measure it? 
  5. Do we have the information we need to plan and act? 
    • Where do we find it and how do we use it? 
  6. How must we organize for innovation? 
    • Do we have champions? 
    • How do we engage the entire organization? 
  7. How do we balance “old” and “new?” 
    • How do we plan and budget for our agile journey? 
  8. How do we know when we are risking too much?
    • Can we afford to fail at this initiative? Can we recover from it if we do?
Greg Crandell

Greg Crandell

Greg Crandell provides strategy, market planning, business development, and management consulting to financial technology firms and their clients – Credit Unions and Banks. For more years than he wishes to admit, ... Web: Details

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