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Being mostly a behavioral economist, I greatly enjoyed the book, which was really not that complicated. Not like "The Big Short" (which is FILLED with detailed proofs that incentives work) but more like his stories about the financial crises in Greece ("Beware Greeks Bearing Bonds") and municipal America ("CA and Bust").

You got the main points, Laura. The scouts didn't really analyze the desired outcomes from prospects but instead imputed talents based on superficial guesses, weighting subjective traits of appearance and style over essentials like how often they got on base. The institutional stubborness of the baseball gurus allowed a low-budget team to pick up players ignored by others who could together more than substitute for one superstar who costs more than all of them combined.

Don't be so quick to dismiss the practical lessons. Nearly every uniformed service in the world from Military to Firefighter does the same thing that exact way. They focus on mission-critical KSAs and constantly drill people with "task, condition and standard" performance techniques so many ordinary folks can do extraordinary things. Emergency response services like those do not seek "heroes" or demand Mensa members because they are designed and organized to do specific things with mundane resources. Their success therefore does not rest on a few key individuals but on team performance, just like every other really big enterprise.

Hi Laura,

I was struck by your comment "...you need a doctorate in economics combined with amazing leadership skills to assemble a winning team of non winners. Since most people have neither an absurdly high IQ nor amazing leadership skills, there's nothing to see here, folks.", and thought of an exception: the military. Here we have the Ellis Island - "Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" - of recruitment and year after year, they have had one success after another on the battlefield. Frankly, they do an amazing job!

Thank you, @Jim and @Dillweed, I agree the military does an amazing job. To be honest, I was thinking more of the implications for businesses but thank you for pointing out that the military has been able to put some of these theories into successful practice.

And make note that the star of the Moneyball story Billy Beane was not the team's Head Coach but the General Manager. Coaches are the ones paid to lead the players while the GM typically stands behind the scenes. GMs are forbidden by MLB rules from sitting in the dugout, as I recall, and Beane himself couldn't stand to even watch the games so he never used his private box section. His actual "leadership" was intellectual, impersonal and systemic, like that of the entertainment producer who buys the talent and controls the materials that the director turns into a show. The real story proves that you can work behind the scenes without a winning personality to assemble talent that produces a winning record.

THAT is very important for compensation people to know, since most of us are more like Billy Beane than Brad Pitt.

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