Play Ball!


There is a theory out in the world of baseball that everything you need to know about life, you learn in the outfield. I think there is some truth to that. Baseball is a game of knowing when to swing, learning about the other team and waiting for the right time to steal the bases. Sounds an awful lot like business right? We all know that we have to be strategic and wait for the right moment to pull our customers in, it’s part of the game. The one thing the California Angels are teaching small business this year, is how far management dysfunction can damage your organization. Here’s what the Angels have taught us so far:


You can’t ignore personality conflicts

Your organization is run by people, not robots so when the people don’t get along the effects reach past those two people and into the rest of the organization.   General Manager, Jerry Dipoto and Manager, Mike Scioscia are like oil and water. The result is that Scioscia doesn’t accept or value Dipoto’s contributions and Scioscia’s strong personality alienates his staff.  You cannot hope that situations like these resolve themselves, because they won’t. You set the tone for your organization and it is your job to align everyone to your organization’s goals. You may have to remind your staff that getting along is more than playing nice; it’s about creating an environment of respect and focus.


Be clear about responsibilities

I feel like  a broken record on this one, but it is so important to the success of your organization. People cannot function successfully if they do not know what is expected of them. Some people feel that Scioscia is not pulling his weight, he doesn’t sit in on interviews and you could argue that his reluctance to embrace the data brought to his team by Dipoto he isn’t doing his job. The truth is that change is hard in any organization and when Dipoto stepped in, he should have been clear about his performance expectations and position responsibilities for Scioscia. It isn’t enough to assume that the person in a leadership position knows what to do. You have to spell out, sometimes painstakingly, what you want to see as the head of your organization. Sometimes it’s not pretty and sometimes it becomes evident that you have a mismatch, but either way you need to know.

Loosen the reigns

You have to let your people do their jobs, you hired them so let them work. It’s been said that part of the reason Dipoto has been perceived as ineffective is that he wasn’t given the wide berth he anticipated to run the organization. This is a problem that plays out everyday in companies all around the world. When you hire someone for their talent, you have to let them work. And sometimes that means getting out of the way and letting them make decisions that are going to affect your organization. If you trusted them enough to hire them, you need to trust them enough to let them work.


Stop using money as a motivator

Now I am of the school that agrees that someone should be fairly compensated, once you do that money is off the table and you get down to what really motivates someone. The dark side of this is when organizations take market value too literally. Scioscia has $25m left on his managerial contract, enough to make him completely confident in creating a new playbook or enough to make him not care at all. And that’s the problem with using money as a motivator, it’s a double edged sword.


Know your chess pieces

It’s been said that the real reason for the discord is that Scioscia liked being the only person with the owner’s ear and he hasn’t taken too kindly to sharing that privilege.  Whether that’s true or not, from a CEO’s perspective it bears some attention. We know that the best CEO’s surround themselves with the best people, so how do you be sure that they have your organization’s best interests at heart? The answer is that you don’t and it’s better to bet on the fact that they are thinking about themselves as much as your organization. You have to step back as a CEO and look at all the moves, make the moves that move your organization from where you are to where you want to be.


Leona Charles

Leona Charles began SPC Business Consulting Ltd in 2007 to help businesses of all sizes get the most out of their performance. As a Six Sigma Black Belt, she brings a fresh and unique approach to Operations Consulting drawing on her 10 years of combined experience in law enforcement, government contracting, property management, customer service, non profit industry, and education.

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  1. Thom Rigsby says

    Wow, you managed to combine two of my favorite things, business and baseball (although not necessarily a good combination on their own). I especially liked Loosen the Reigns, that’s something I see all the time in businesses I work with. They hire a building full of people who very often are reduced to standing around, waiting for the owner to tell them what to do! Now, remind me… why did you hire all these people?

    Super article, shared with my network!



  2. says

    I love the baseball analogy for business. Also love the focus on simplicity. It’s not easy to keep things simple but it’s a clean way to conduct business. Letting people do what they were hired to do is important.