Monday, September 05, 2005

Walmart and MoneyBall

There is absolutely no reason that the giant chain store and the book about bringing sabermetics into baseball should be at all connnected in my mind, but to me they seem to be the same thing- empires built on logic and economics and cold hard numbers and a lot of capitalism.
It always gives me a warm feeling to walk into Walmart. Not just because they sell everything I could ever need and are very cheap, but because I feel like I am being expertly handled. Any sign or plan has been tested somewhere and proven to work. If they choose to offer bathrooms to the clients, this was not somebody's random notion, it was the result of a scientific and focus-group tested something or other. Other people might feel manipulated about this, but I feel secure that my shopping experience is in the hands of an expert, which, I suppose, is just how the A's fans should feel after reading moneyball.
Perfect example (not of Moneyball, I try to ignore baseball as much as is possible in a home that contains my brother). Walmart's checkout bags. While not adopting the Israeli system of "Bag it yourself. What, you want me to bag it or something? You have hands. Come on, Chabibi, keep moving, we've got a line here," nonetheless Walmart has decided that it must do this process just a little bit more efficiently than everyone else, because this is Walmart. So they have these bag carousel thingees shaped like triangles, so that the bagger can just spin the wheel to get new, empty bags, while the shopper can remove the old ones at his leisure. Brilliant.
It's like when I read Cheaper by the Dozen or watched an assembly line in action- it is simply a pleasure to watch something being done right, with intelligence and efficiency. Long live the Walmart mentality!


Rachel said...

Cheaper by the Dozen talked about efficiency a lot, but they don't seem to have been any more efficient about raising their kids then anybody else. I guess you don't need a degree in industrial design to raise kids.

Tobie said...

They did make the kids take care of each other a lot of the time, which is reasonably efficient, but not exceptionally so. They also had some sort of super fast baths, I seem to recall.