Why You Should Throw a Curveball at Convention

If existing business methods have always worked, why change? This question and its implied answer – a variation of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – are persuasive. After all, change requires effort and often creates disruption.

But should we really be afraid of stepping outside of convention? Sometimes changing things and trying a new approach, even if it is derided by others, may just create that crucial edge a company needs to be competitive. This is the premise of the brilliant film Moneyball, which chronicles the game-changing practices behind the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its unconventional manager Billy Beane .

Beane introduced an evidence-based system  called sabermetrics to recruit a competitive baseball team on a tiny budget. Although Beane’s approach flew in the face of traditional baseball wisdom and the entrenched beliefs of grizzled talent scouts, it enabled him to find exceptional value in undervalued players. The result? Baseball minnows Oakland Athletics were able to compete on an even footing with giants of the game like the New York Yankees. Sabermetrics has since become widely used, even outside the ballpark.

Oakland would never have tasted success if Beane had stayed within convention. This got me thinking: what conventions do we face in the world of work? Here are a few.

  • Your daily commute is a fact of life.
  • Real work takes place in an office at a desk during normal work hours.
  • You need to be in the same room to have a productive meeting.

In your own field, are you held back by convention, or do you aspire to be like Billy Beane?

Photo credit: Jason Alley