Monday, April 6, 2009

Baseball: building your (business) team


It's the beginning of baseball season! The long winter is over.

As I follow baseball, I often compare managing the team to managing a company. Not only in selecting the right team members, but also deciding what type of employees you want on the team and choosing which role to place them in. A sports writer I follow, Joe Posnanski, made an interesting claim about managing a baseball team:

You can go a million different ways. But, in my view, you HAVE TO CHOOSE. That’s getting at the core of what I believe about baseball now. I think you need a plan that is much more involved than just grabbing a bunch of good players with varying skills and just hoping that it all works out for the best.

This gets to my difficulty with the book Good to Great. As you know Collins argues to 'get the right people on the bus, then in the right seat on the bus, then point the bus (in the direction to go).'

But, contra Posnanski, I might argue, before you put anyone on the bus, you have to choose how you are going to go about your business. If you don't know - then any collection of, as he puts it, "good players with varying skills and just hoping it all works out".

Now, your way of going about your business can't be just willy-nilly, just like you can't select only baseball players who are tall, or wear size 13 shoes. Your business has to reflect your values and philosophy on how you do things.

I used to work for a small software company whose owner prided himself on being out front on new techologies in the industry - if we weren't at the bleeding edge, we weren't in it at all. That philosophy should have colored every employee he brought on. Without it, no amount of good people on the bus would get it pointed in the right direction.

If you are an entrepreneur, you are the face of your company. If you don't know what your philosophy or way of doing things is, you won't be able to decide on which way to go. In the end, choose how you are going to do things and go, rather than dawdling on different ways you are going to build your team. That is what creates loyalty to your team. Not everyone likes the Yankees (boo!), but at least I know what they stand for. What do the Pirates stand for?

BTW - Go Twins!

No comments: