Before breaking The Curse of the Billy Goat, the last time the Cubs won the World Series, The New York Yankees had yet to win a single title. Ty Cobb batted cleanup in the losing effort for the Tigers, and not only was there no internet, or even TV: radio wasn’t even invented yet! No matter how much the world has changed since The Northsiders won it all, two things are stuck in 1908: education and insurance sales.
I intertwine these two because they are of interest to me, but also because both are heavily in the “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” mentality. Even though both are broke as badly as a bat from Mariano Rivera’s cutter.
Let’s start with education. We are still using much of the same approach of “sit down, shut up, and listen” that was used when America transformed from an agrarian society to an industrial one, and the need to feed the factories with semi-trained but obedient workers was critical. As my co-author Dr. Stolk points out in his Brains Business™ presentation, this is by far the worst way to educate as only ~10% is retained. Adding in movement or song will easily double or even triple the retention. But our education system is the finest in the world and running perfectly, so why change anything?
Same thing with insurance sales. The Granum Ratio from the 1940’s (last time the Indians won the World Series!) of 10% of the introductions you receive becoming clients is partially still valid because we have not applied seven decades of advancement to insurance sales; rather we still go out and try to sit with tired and distracted people after dinner while their kids are running around, or we cold call all those Wall Street bankers and the doctors and attorneys because that is where the big dollars are and mindlessly picking up the phone for three hours at a time seems like we are working hard even if the results are paltry. But hey, that one big sale a quarter makes it all worth it, right?
Furthermore, new Representatives in the insurance industry are still being taught in much the same way that they were in the 1980’s: classroom lectures, maybe watching a video (some still from the 1980’s with big hair and skinny ties), sitting down and listening to someone drone on. Maybe there is some interactive role play injected, but why bother to alter our methodology of training to more closely reflect reality? Let’s pump these students full of info via the firehose approach that we learned three decades ago because we survived! They can too! Big deal if we only retain 10-15% of our recruits, that’s the way it’s always been!
Joe Madden and the Cubs won the World Series because he thinks differently. Bring in the set-up man in the 5th inning to shut down a rally and grab momentum? Unheard of! It’s just not the way we do things! Oh yeah, it worked…
Baseball is timeless but has evolved. Sabermetrics has influenced the game: understanding hitter’s tendencies have led to defensive shifts and different bullpen management. Why haven’t we altered how we sell knowledge or products, when we have the data to show where the holes are?
Why are we focused on having a physical presence (in the classroom or the client’s office), of moving molecules around so we can have small talk? Moving electrons is easier! We have this thing called the internet, that magically transports us anywhere and any when. Doesn’t matter if it is raining or snowing, we can instantly be face to face with our client, or asking questions of a world class scientist that is doing cool research. Or streaming the baseball game, and tying in the concepts of that game to our math lesson (how is batting average calculated) or sales training (see how he trains the hitter to expect X, then does Y)?
The great coaches make learning and competing fun. Yes, they make sure that the fundamentals are taught and re-inforced, but they put their players in the best position to win. The baseball season is a grind, as can be school or the sales cycle. But Madden is a future Hall of Fame manager because they get better results with inexperienced people because they are not afraid to teach them and manage them a bit differently than in the past. And because of that one of these franchises is breaking a slump. Maybe, just maybe, you should steal some of their signs and play your game differently to win.