Moneyball: Changing the Game for The Fire Service

Once in a while a movie comes and slam dunks.  Moneyball was it for me this year.  I’ve seen it three times and will jump into the book soon.  Lot’s of subtle moments that have deep meaning especially if your organization resembles the Oakland As team of 2002.  Here are some of my favorite quotes and how they relate to our fire service of today:

“You’re not solving the problem. You’re not even looking at the problem.”  What’s the problem?  Identify the fundamental problem(s) and then focus like a mad scientist on solving that problem. Don’t sweat the small stuff around the actual problem as it will distract you.  Cut out those people that have deep experience and are attached to the status quo — it’s possible that they’re part of the problem. Figure out the biggest opportunity and what would bring about the most change and efficiency, and then attack it.

“We’ve got to think differently.”  Like the Oakland As, your department is working under often big unfair constraints.  If you’re trying to disrupt the status quo you’re not going to do it by playing the game the same old way it’s been done since right after the civil war.  You’ll need to analyze and ponder about things differently.   Want to lose fast today? Keep hoping for this recession thing to blow over soon without you having to put out the major effort required to update your town’s concept of fire safety and suppression.

I will discuss these next 3 Moneyball quotes in my next blog update.

Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins.

I’m not paying you for the player you used to be, I’m paying you for the player you are right now.

 We’re going to change the game.


Social mood, point of recognitions, demographic analysis, and decision impacts are some things we take a hard look at in the Hardcore Leadership for the Fire Service newsletter (set soon for Spring 2012 release). If you’re busting your butt to come up with magic to deal with this fiscal mess then YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS OUT ON THIS.  Hardcore Leadership is exactly what is says it is.  Straight to the point, no B.S.!!  These are times for solutions, moving fast, walking the talk.  One idea can save you millions.  One idea can save your job.  One idea done right will save lives.  Isn’t that why we’re here?  Now take charge and get to work and go change the world!

Firefighting the Second-Most Stressful Job in the Nation, White Paper Reports with Related Video — Fire Chief article

Firefighting the Second-Most Stressful Job in the Nation, White Paper Reports with Related Video — Fire Chief article.  “What helped move firefighters up to the second spot was their level of stress coupled with the threat of job loss.”

Now I am pretty sure that layoffs, rolling brownouts, spotty compliance with state or federal mandates, reduction in supervisory staff, old equipment, wage and benefits deflation, etc. has added to the stress the modern day firefighter has to face.

As towns across the country are making painful decisions concerning their public safety, even services like trash collection are now on the chopping block!  Medford, New Jersey is now considering further cuts to it’s police force bringing it to a 57% reduction in 3 years. No doubt this story will be repeated in towns all across the country.

Money Changes Everything

Community rally

Hard times in the hood. I mean really hard times in the hood. The City of Camden (NJ) has announced a consolidation plan for it’s police department. Details were sparce with no budget numbers made available but PD layoffs and the predictable upticks in crime precipitated the announcement. So now the solution is to go Metro. Dissolve the current unionized police workforce and create a new non-unionized (and patronage) force at the county level. Probably soon to be the rage across the state as budgets come under more strain.

But in the midst of all this, where is the teamwork and collaboration? Both the unions and politicians point the finger at each other and blame for the current pubic safety crises, but who gives a shit whose fault it is. As a taxpayer, property owner, and even an employee of the fire department, I DEMAND SOLUTIONS. Not blame game. Get it together or get lost, and that goes out to all parties. At this pace no one will enjoy any job or retirement if major steps are not taken to work our way out of this national/global economic crises.

I am pessimistic that an accord could be made in Camden to salvage the present police force. Both sides are entrenched. But maybe the pain to come in the near-term will be enough to bring a collaborative effort among the stakeholders to create the new fire services organization needed for the next 80 years. For that I am hopeful for. Until next-year (Lord-willing), Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano!