John O'Connor

Leaders in this field seem to have an unquenchable thirst for new insights.

Many go to live events to learn more. Others devour the latest leadership and management nuggets being served up in magazines or the Internet. Still others are pursuing additional degrees.

It’s not too hard to see why this frenzied search for new knowledge exists. Long-term care is undergoing unprecedented change, and who wants to be left behind?

Those are all worthy options. But if I were asked to suggest a can’t-miss source for both big picture and strategic guidance, none of them would be my first choice. Instead, I’d recommend a book that was written about one man’s efforts to keep his disadvantaged business competitive. The business happens to be a Major League team, and the book is “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.”

The narrative focuses primarily on General Manager Billy Beane and his efforts to remain competitive with other ball clubs. Beane’s challenge is compounded by numerous revenue disadvantages, not the least of which is that some of the other teams have two or three times as much money to spend.

Desperate to find an edge, Beane essentially rejects the collected wisdom of baseball insiders. Instead, he turns to a concept that at the time was largely ignored by many of the same experts: and evidence-based approach known as cybermetrics.

The tool allows him to take advantage of more objective gauges of player performance. As a result, he is able to draft and field athletes whom other clubs overlooked. The upshot: His team becomes wildly successful, and many of the richer competitors begin using cybermetrics as well.

For any long-term care operator with doubts about where to proceed, the book offers both an important message and sound strategic guidance.

The message is this: You can succeed against competitors who seem to have unfair advantages, if you are willing to try new things and be smart about it.

Here’s the strategic insight: New technology can be used for many things, but none is more important than unearthing knowledge that gives you an actionable advantage. If you can do that, you will always be in a position to offer services that are either better or cheaper than the competition.

And that’s the bottom line.

John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.