Saturday, August 16, 2003

In Management, as in Baseball, you score by rounding the bases  

A friend who read yesterday's entry and a part of my book suggested that before I go much further on down this road, I'd better lay out how Change fits into my grand design.

In baseball the team that wins is the one that scores the most runs. To score a run, you have to touch safely at each of the bases and you have to do it in order: 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and finally, return to where you started, home plate.

In management in your organization, too, there are four sequential stops, four bases that form a diamond. To truly succeed, you must achieve mastery of four skill sets: operational management, people management, self-awareness, and managing change. As in baseball, you can’t skip a step. If you don’t touch a base on the way to the next one, you’re likely to fail in your goal of being a good manager.

First base is operational management, the set of skills that embody what most experts describe as management: controlling time, resources and budgets; defining strategies and tactics; and execution. A manager can’t succeed without being good at these first, but one who stops at first base cannot be a true success. In my experience as a management consultant, I've found about 45% of managers safely reach first base. It takes other skills to move forward.

Second base is people management. That’s knowing how to find and hire the right people, how to understand employees’ individual strengths and weaknesses, how to use their talents and ameliorate their weaknesses, how to motivate them individually and as a team, how to reprimand, and how and when to fire them. I've found about 20% of managers safely reach second base.

The diamond’s third base is truly a ‘hot corner’: managing oneself and the challenge of transcending one’s personal emotional and intellectual tendencies in the quest for effectiveness. Managing oneself also means finding a balance between acting and being true to yourself, to achieve what your employees and organization need to succeed. It also means managing your own career. I've found about 12% of managers safely reach third base.

Home plate, the holy grail in management accomplishment, is managing change. In an unchanging environment, even a total bozo can keep his head above water by imitating others’ successful strategies. But managers need to understand what change really is, how it happens in organizations, how to adapt to it, and how to initiate it. I've found about 4- to 5% of managers safely reach home.

I'll be adding tips & methods for all the bases, and unlike the book, my weblog entries won't be in the sequential order of the bases.


Thanks to Baseball Primer, I found a very solid newspaper mini-bio by SABR member Bill Deane on Earl Weaver (Ignore the title; the Daily Star's copy desk screwed the pooch on the headline). Earl got me started in the right direction on this Management by Baseball work, and, contrary to the common folktale people tell about him, he showed me nothing but helpfulness and shared his great ideas with me (admittedly gruffly, but who gives a spit when a measureable proven self-made success is willing to answer all your questions completely) when I was a baseball reporter and quote man for AP and UPI. Of course, I wasn't a !#@*# umpire.

Weaver should be on Mt. Rushmore.

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