Business and Baseball Evolution....
The past week, I've been in Miami, Florida working.
At night, I have been attending Florida Marlins baseball games. I enjoy baseball. I enjoy going with friends, clients, or alone.
One night I went alone. The other evening with a business associate.
The Phillies were in town, and our tickets were about 10 rows up from first base.
Since I have been playing, and attending games, (and mostly as a fan) -- I love watching. Watching the coaches get and give their signs....I "get into" watching the fabric of the game.
The manager moves. The coaches watching the managers signals, the hitters, runners, and pitchers...RECEPTION of the decisions.
The hand gestures, from dugout, to coach, to player......
Most of all, I enjoy watching the REACTION to decisions by all involved. Seeing a manager call a, "hit and run" with a man on first, and watching it fail---and seeing the manager REACTION.
Across the board, beyond the ACTION, and plays, there is a game going on......decisions being made -- and probably, many in the stadium have little to no clue what's transpiring, BEYOND the plays, or physical action on the field..
Last night I witnesses a evolutionary aspect of baseball, that was subtle, yet struck me like a 3-2 fastball.....
It was not steroids, juiced balls, or loaded bats.
It was the ROLE and responsibility of the FIRST BASE COACH.
It has evolved.
10 years ago and prior, when a player got a single, or a walk....they arrived at first base...They may have been greeted with, words of encouragement, a update on the amount of outs, and a statement to "watch signs" of a call....
Now, the first base coach is a equipment manager.
Hitters are wearing arm equipment, ankle shields, wrist guards......
Hitters now have a arsenal of protection to make them bolder, and less afraid of the pitchers.
But, this has changed the role of the coaches.......
There was a rally, where about 8 hitters came to the plate, some walked, some got singles.....but, they all spent time with the first base coach, during this particular inning.
They all (hitters) take off their gear upon arriving at first base, and hand it to the coach to hold.
The coach has no less than 5 arm shields, 4 ankle guards.....they WERE DRAPED on his arms, stuffing his pockets, and adding a "evolutionary element" to his job, as coach.
It wasn't the equipment that bothered me, it was the RESULT of the EQUIPMENTS use by hitters, that has me questioning, "is baseball better or worse off, when a hitter has these advantages, (through enhanced protection and equipment) what has it done to the game?"
I see what it has done to the poor first base coach.
This led me to the BUSINESS PARALLELS of baseball.....
Are there any examples of the first base coach, and his changing role, through equipment?
What has it done to business, and how have roles evolved, as it pertains to, " enhanced equipment?"
Certainly, I think we can all agree that the "digital age", and the use of computers, and technology has made our business world, "speedier."
Managers, at the click of a mouse can view data, that a generation ago took days, and weeks to compile.
What about MANAGERS, and "coaches" of companies, and their role in leading their employees?
I have been involved in organizations where TOO MUCH reliance is placed upon the, "enhanced equipment" to build and win.
CRM tools, Project Managment Software Applications, Email, Excel Spreadsheets.......these have become the tools of "measurement" for our managers and coaches.
These reflect, like in Baseball - Batting Averages, RBI's, Earned Run Averages, and many other KEY STATiSTICS to determine productivity, (or lack of) each employee.
My key learning, (remember I enjoy witnessing the "fabric" and evolution beyond the action, both in sports and business) this has led me to the following.....
1) Many companies are using email, and intranets as PRIMARY communication tools.
2) Many companies are using EMAIL, to manage....and provide leadership.
3) Many organizations rely TOO MUCH on, "enhanced equipment" data, and the hard numbers....and less on "subjective info.."
4) There is LESS social contact, and less peer to peer, sharing of ideas....when employees are managed by what I've described as, "enhanced equipment."
5) Fewer opportunites on a day to day basis, to get REAL feedback and performance insight..., as to what kind of job the employee is doing, because, "its all in the data numbers on spreadsheet 4, tab 6."(Reliance on data)
6) Less real communication that HUMAN BEINGS need.
Socialization in my view has been the evolutionary LOSS, in the business world.
Sure, we have email, Instant Message and Tools that allow us to communicate faster, and receive information quicker.....and act upon it.
Does this long term effect on business, STIFLE INNOVATION?
Less interpersonal contact?
Does employees morale go lower because in the end, the "DATA OF MANAGEMENT HAS REPLACED MANAGEMENT OF DATA?"
What's the implication?
Like the evolution of the first base coach...(carrying and holding gear) or, similiar to baseball, and all the "enhanced equipment" - there are long term effects on the, "fabric" of the game, or business.
In the short term, data is easy to look at, as a possible indictor of things to come......
Productivity is up, like Batting Averages.
But, I'm of a belief in business, we have yet to achieve, "stastical signficance" of, "enhanced equipments", effect on the game of business.
The game of business changes like it always has, and always will.
Baseball, for all its greatness, changes subtly, and in ways that to some are transparent.
The key is being aware of changes in equipment, the tools of use, and how the, "fabric evolves."
In some weird way, we are all players, in this evolutionary game of business.
I love my seat, ten rows up from the first base coach........
30,000 feet and blogging on JetBlue, using MY "enhanced equipment"......
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless handheld.