Moneyball versus Ted Lasso.

Moneyball versus Ted Lasso, the dilemma.

I have watched two sports (Movie/TV) programs this week, and each of them inspired me in one way or the other.

Moneyball is a movie about a team of misfits systematically put together, at a bargain-basement price, who go on to fight and succeed in winning a record run in baseball. The team selection was managed by a computer program using analytical data to get the most significant return for their investment. This approach was so that they could compete with the big-spending teams. 

The other, Ted Lasso, a TV series about an American football coach given a chance to manage an English Premier League football team but unknowingly to him, he is being set up to fail. However, the power of his likeable personality and his careful man-management and motivational skills gives him a fighting chance to succeed.

No plot spoilers here (the above detail is nothing that you don’t read on the movie brief) 

Both programs are well worth taking the time to watch. 

I recommend them.

However, my take away from both is something to add to my life long struggle…  

What is the best way to manage and lead high performing and successful teams?

What makes the group click together and go on to outshine other teams?

The choices evident in the programs are complicated. On the one hand, an over-reliance on data analysis to design your every decision. On the other, going with some energetic gut instinct, observation and top-level data analysis to support the selections you make.

Data versus passion!

I wish I had the answer. I don’t, and it is likely to be my life long inner turmoil. 

I will take this dilemma to the grave.

“Take calculated risks, That is quite different from being rash”

George S.Patton

However, the real answer to this question probably lies in the murky grey area of ‘it depends’…

The solution is likely to be situational. The time and needs will decide the style or direction you turn to, so it will be a mixture of the two options.

It depends. Again, I don’t know. 

But if that might be the possible answer, something else challenges me.

So, if it is situational, then I ask myself another question. 

What is more important? Who is worth more to the success?

Is it the deep dive minute detail that unlocks magical insights for a stoic leader? 

Or a leader who inspires a team to break boundaries and die together on a hill for the win?

I still have no idea, but I do know what leader gets my attention by the balls. What type of leader has me racing up that hill, ready to be part of something unique…

…And it isn’t the guy behind the computer desk crunching numbers. 

Now, I get it. There is and was a time and a place for that. It has merit in every sense. Agreed.

But someone has to take that data and make it work its magic. Transform it into action.

Someone has to instil belief in the system. 

They have to instil belief in the team.

Someone has to drive for that commitment, build the energy and unite the individuals. Otherwise, you will get a team of hollowed-out numbers.

You will get cold, calculated formulaic output. You will pullulate a team of compliance, which might win you trophies, but is it sexy?

To break it all down to the penultimate question.

And that question is, what style is the sexiest; Brad Pitt in Moneyball or Ted Lasso?

The answer; ‘it depends.’

It depends on who is delivering the message.

Or does it depends on how we perceive it?

Is that right? Mr Sudeikis?


Experience Sanlitun Village, Beijing.

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