How Brad Pitt and Clint Eastwood Leverage Technology
I have four siblings; one brother, two sisters, and the Chicago Cubs. Growing up in Chicago meant that baseball wasn't merely America's favorite pastime, it was a part of the family. My father taught me to love the game and be loyal to "Our Team". He used to share wisdom such as "If you want to marry a loyal woman, marry a Cubs fan". Whenever a new baseball movie hits the box office, I'm usually the first in line. Two recent baseball films seem to illustrate two very different perspectives on how we leverage technology for a business.
Trouble With A Curve
I already knew I would love this film before I had the privilege of watching it because it's lead role is played by the legendary Clint Eastwood. In the film, Eastwood plays a talent scout that has been in the business for many years! Despite his older age that is beginning to get the best of him, his experience and history with the game gives him an edge over the other scouts in the film. Most of these other scouts rely on advanced algorithms, saber metrics, and probabilities to recruit young aspiring athletes. Eastwood's approach is much different, he simply watches and interacts with the players. His decisions are fueled by intuition that took years to develop. In the film there is a young player who has most of the talent scouts drooling. Eastwood notices something the numbers don't. The young player has trouble hitting a curve ball. The signs are subtle and easy to overlook but they are unmistakable. Sooner or later pitching staffs would come to see what Eastwood sees and be able to significantly reduce his effectiveness and value as a ball player. The old timers intuition helps his team avoid a bad investment.
The lesson we learn: Although advancements in technology have significantly increased our efficiency in the workplace, there is still a place in today's business world for the human element. Things like as quality service, politeness, structure, and common sense will never be obsolete. Trust your gut if you feel strongly about a business decision that you're struggling with. Remember, you can't outsource you're own competitive advantage. Go and take a good hard look at your company. Walk a mile in your customers and employees shoes. Despite how your business looks on paper, there may be aspects of your business that have "trouble with a curve".
The lady killer Brad Pitt stars in this film and it surprisingly seems to have the same exact plot as "Trouble with a curve" but with one exception, it's offers a reciprocal viewpoint. Rather than relying on experience and intuition, Pit relies on statistics to find players that most other scouts overlook. He finds players that to the common eye seem flawed. He looks for talent that can do the one thing he cares most about, getting on base. Even if it's ugly and unconventional, if you can get on base, you have a place on the team. In this true life story, Pitt's character assembles a group of misfits that has the majority of the baseball community laughing at him. Although the team gets off to a slow start, they end up being one of the best teams in the major leagues. He was able to produce more wins than organizations that had twice the resources and triple the payroll.
The lesson we learn: By carefully analyzing data, you will notice trends that can otherwise be overlooked. If you understand what is really important to your organization then you should find a way to monitor and measure it. Technology allows you to do this to a degree that is mind boggling. Acting like a data scientist is a sure fire way to have a "winning season". Again, you can't outsource your own competitive advantage. Nonetheless, you can constantly monitor and measure what makes you unique and by doing so ensure you're on the right track. You don't need to be the industry leader with an unlimited budget to set yourself apart and carve out a place for your company in your industry. It takes attention to details and an understanding of what your company cares most about.
Whether your approach to business resembles the characters played by Brad Pitt or Clint Eastwood, you need to face one cold hard fact; the game is different these days. Few people would dispute the fact that over the last 10 years technology has disrupted and changed the way we do business. Effective marketing strategies that used to consistently bring in new customers now seem like a waste of time. Achieving customer loyalty has become increasingly more difficult. The tools we use to stay competitive in business can seem like something of science fiction to our grandparents. Even if you wouldn't consider your business as technologically advanced as the Millennium Falcon, one thing is irrefutable: YOU HAVE ACCESS TO A LARGER POOL OF ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TO CHOOSE FROM IN ORDER TO BUILD, RUN, AND GROW YOUR BUSINESS THAN EVER BEFORE.
The very first step in leveraging technology is developing a clear understanding of your competitive advantage or approach to business. What makes your business unique? If your competitive advantage is customer service then you should be exploring new tools that enhance your customer service experience. If what makes your franchise system a unique offering is an uncomplicated and replicable system of generating healthy profits, then you should be relentlessly exploring tools that make the execution of your brand promise to your clients as simple and profitable possible. The technology industry has grown so fast that you can spend a ton of time selecting, customizing, and implementing new technology for your business. As the saying goes, "the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time". Once you know what sets your company apart in your industry, start there. Leverage technology that helps you improve in that one specific area. Don't let your competitors beat you where it really counts. In order to stay competitive in today's business landscape, you need to be leveraging technology. I believe both Pitt and Eastwood would agree.
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