Note: This post originally appeared on NFF's blog at the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
In an annual ritual marking the change of seasons, pitchers and catchers just reported to Florida for spring training. Professional baseball sends a powerful lesson to those of us who work to solve social problems: Despite nearly 150 years of entrenched traditions, the sport has shown itself to be open to change. And that change is transforming how the game is played.
How does baseball point a path forward for those of us struggling to support a just and vibrant society in our troubled times?
The answer lies in the story of Billy Beane, manager of the Oakland Athletics, who demonstrated how radical innovation can allow anyone to achieve positive transformation even against seemingly impossible constraints.
Mr. Beane, immortalized in print and film by Moneyball, watched his baseball team lose the 2001 playoffs to the much wealthier New York Yankees. He approached the Athletics owner for more money to spend on salaries and was turned down—the money just wasn’t available. Yet Mr. Beane refused to take that as defeat. He still wanted his team to achieve greatness.
Mr. Beane’s staff members offered to work harder and put in longer hours to help the team win. However, he sensed that even an improved version of business-as-usual would lead to failure. He did not have access to the funding others had used to solve similar problems. He needed to radically reinvent how he ran the team to have any chance of success. Read More