www.tcbreview.com THE CONFERENCE BOARD REVIEW 37
The largish thirtysomething male across from me on the Acela wore an unmissably thick World Series Championship
ring. Jared doesn’t play ball, though—he helps run the Boston Red Sox’s minor-league talent-development program.
He travels the world evaluating young hotshots competing for their shot at the pros.
A fan of sabermetrics and Moneyball, Jared spoke passionately and fluently of his club’s cutting-edge culture of data-
driven innovation. The Red Sox take technology more seriously than virtually any other major-league baseball team.
Everything from computer-enhanced biomechanics videos of batters’ swings to intricate statistical analyses of pitcher/
batter match-ups is used to judge potential and performance. Any insight that might give a player an edge is fair game.
MICHAEL SCHRAGE is a research fellow at the MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business and a senior adviser to MIT’s Security Studies Program.
His last article was “The Future of Advice,” the March/April 2008 cover story.
Self-improvement in an era of steroids,
Adderall, and executive coaching. By Michael Schrage
38 THE CONFERENCE BOARD REVIEW Summer 2009
Like every ballclub, the Sox are looking hard for the Next Big
Superstar. But the team’s most pervasive personnel challenge,
Jared observed, is procuring players who are more “coachable”
than their predecessors. Athletic excellence and burning desire
aren’t enough—the Red Sox want top-tier talent capable of
using the team’s tools, techniques, and technologies to play bet-
ter. Major League Baseball’s stats-centric, always-looking-for-
an-edge environment makes players who are unwilling or un-
able to constantly improve riskier investments. Empowering
talent to better itself along every legitimate dimension—a cate-
gory not including steroids or human growth hormone, Jared
insisted—is the ethos that sets Red Sox management apart.
Not three months later, I participated in an unclassified
Department of Defe