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inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #0 of 103: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Sun 28 May 06 07:20
    
Our next guest, Jeff Angus, is the author of the smart and practical how-to
book, "Management by Baseball: The Official Rules for Winning Management in
Any Field."

Jeff is an award-winning manager and management consultant. He's
also a professional baseball writer and a member of the Society for
American Baseball Research. His management background includes
start-ups, entrepreneurial and big corporations, large and small
agencies, and nonprofits. Some work experience: he's been a cab driver
in DC, a foot messenger in Manhattan, picked citrus, worked as a
legislative aide at the U.S. Senate, managed the operations of the Grey
Rabbit & was Director of Strategic Consulting for a knowledge
management consultancy in Kansas City.

Leading the conversation with Jeff is Stephanie Vardavas. Stephanie has been
working in the sports industry for 27 years. She spent ten years in New York
at the headquarters of Major League Baseball and then eight years in
suburban Washington, DC at the sports agency ProServ (now a subsidiary of
Clear Channel / SFX Sports), before joining Nike in 1997. Stephanie has a
bachelor's degree from Yale in American Studies and a JD from Fordham. At
Nike her practice is divided between endorsements and sponsorships (50%) and
product safety and sustainability issues (50%). She has been on The WELL
since 1994, hosts the <business.> conference, and cohosts the <weird.>
conference with (mcow). In 1975 Brooks Robinson lent her his uniform for
Halloween.

Welcome, Jeff and Stephanie, glad to have you join us in Inkwell.vue!
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #1 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Mon 29 May 06 01:21
    

Hey Jeff, welcome to your sojourn on the Well, and especially here in 
inkwell.vue! There are a lot of very smart baseball fans here who are also 
active in business, and I hope we'll see many of them here participating 
in this discussion.

Your book presents a lot of interesting issues to chew on, and with luck
we'll be able to get to most of them.

Not wanting to give you too hard a time right at the outset, I 
nevertheless have to start with this:  Baseball has been metaphored to 
within an inch of its life. It's a metaphor for life itself! It's a 
metaphor for love!  It's a metaphor for ethics!  Why isn't it a little 
unfair to try to impose this additional burden on baseball, to make it a 
metaphor for management too?   %^>

To get into the book itself, I'm especially interested in a couple of 
diametrically different examples of management styles you cite. I was 
particularly moved by the story you tell on page 158 about the kid who was 
getting released [fired] and the different ways Bill Bavasi and then his 
boss Mike Port framed the situation for him in words. It's especially 
interesting because both men were entirely truthful in their choice of 
words to describe the event. It's just that Mike delivered the news in a 
way that made it easier for the kid to process, understand, and recover 
from. 

I found it interesting that Bill mentions that the kid was "obnoxious," 
that he was "driving [him] crazy," and I wonder if you think (or if Bill 
admitted) that his feelings about the kid contributed to his relative 
bluntness in informing the kid about what was happening.

The other example I love is the "XYY manager," which you introduce on page 
172. This is a manager who acts like a sociopath because that's his model 
of how a manager acts, and also because he thinks it gets the best 
results. But he isn't really a sociopath, just "crazy like a fox," as my 
dad would say. Maybe he does get the results he wants, at least initially. 
But isn't that wildly unsustainable?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #2 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Tue 30 May 06 11:09
    
I NEVER METAPHOR I DIDN'T POUR
<i>Why isn't it a little unfair to try to impose this additional
burden on baseball, to make it a metaphor for management too? </i>

Frankly, the reason we <u>like</u> baseball as a metaphor is it's
inherent visibility, accountability, "perfect" reporting systems, and
its stochastic nature. There's no Enron in baseball -- it's all right
out there. And that makes it an almost perfect test lab for testing
management theory, -tactics, -strategy and -implementation. It's
generally fair, but sometimes not. The decisionmaking arena evolves not
only annually, but monthly, weekly and, within games, several times a
minute. And it blends both underlying principles/processes <b>and</b>
human factors -- intrinsically not-predictable.

Having said that, I strongly believe that baseball is an imperfect
metaphor for life (life is filled with exxxxtreme ambiguities, no
underlying rulebook), or for ethics. It's a stretch for love (though
Wally & The Beaver seemed to have a perverse attraction to that 1959
Steve Bilko Topps baseball bubble gum card).
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #3 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Tue 30 May 06 21:32
    
Stephanie Vardavas said:
I was particularly moved by the story you tell on page 158 about the
kid who was getting released [fired] and the different ways Bill Bavasi
and then his boss Mike Port framed the situation for him in words.
{SNIP} I found it interesting that Bill mentions that the kid was
"obnoxious," that he was "driving [him] crazy," and I wonder if you
think (or if Bill admitted) that his feelings about the kid contributed
to his relative bluntness in informing the kid about what was
happening.

I THINK...
Bill was fairly young (professionally) himself. Yes, he'd grown up as
the son of *the* legendary GM of the 1950s, but he wouldn't have
shadowed Buzzie when Buzzie was cutting players. The kid was twitchy,
Bill knew he was going to get cut, Bill is terribly honest, and all
this amplified Bill's natural desire to "get the job done".

If the kid hadn't both been twitchy and having to hang on at the desk
for a long time without having a clue, Bill, I think, would have had a
better chance to have sat on his hands. As far as whether the kid
making him uncomfortable by being obnoxious set him off on this blunt
approach, I can't really say. I suspect not -- it suspect that it was
his natural ultra-bluntness that just took over, like some mild  shadow
syndrome of Tourette's.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #4 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Tue 30 May 06 21:44
    
Stephanie Vardavas said:
The other example I love is the "XYY manager," {SNIP} This is a
manager who acts like a sociopath because that's his model of how a
manager acts, and also because he thinks it gets the best results. But
he isn't really a sociopath, just "crazy like a fox," as my dad would
say. Maybe he does get the results he wants, at least initially. But
isn't that wildly unsustainable?
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
True, except in very special circumstances. It works for the Yankees
because they have lots of $$ to throw at healing the scars, because
they've had a leadership tradition since 1920 (and really they're tied
with the Braves for being the most successful team over the last 15
seasons), and because it's New York, where the fans and press have
tougher skins and expect to lacerate others, and to be lacerated
themselves, more frequently.

In the more general case, I believe it can be made to work in special
circumstances, but why bother when there are so many less unhealthy and
also less expensive approaches. The kind of people who respond to
Theory XYY leadership aren't necessarily dysfunctional at work. Like
individuals who go back to abusive spouses again and again, they can be
"smart" or not, diligent or not, capable in their area of expertise or
not. But an XYY-run organization, especially a large one, will have a
hard time gathering and qualified staff who fit the profile *AND* are
very good at what they do. It's hard enough to put together a dream
team without needing that one extra quirk as a filter.

George Steinbrenner has enough money and enough willingness to use it
to win and enough brains that he can pay people the extra $$ for the
privilege of treating them the way he does. Few other for-profit
organizations do.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #5 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Wed 31 May 06 02:09
    

>it's New York, where the fans and press have
 tougher skins and expect to lacerate others, and to be lacerated
 themselves, more frequently

I remember that during the NYC newspaper strike of 1978, a lot of people 
believed that the main reason the Yankees were able to repeat as world 
champions was that they couldn't read what they were saying about each 
other in the papers every day.

Let's talk about fundamentals.  As a lifelong Orioles fan I was very 
pleased to see you give so much ink to Paul Richards' and Earl Weaver's 
determination to imbue their organization with discipline and rigor in the 
way the players approached their tasks. But how important are 
"fundamentals" in a modern world where we keep hearing that the old ways 
don't work anymore?

Here's one "fundamental" that most of us can agree on: manage your 
player/worker by exploiting his or her strengths. All Orioles fans 
remember the legendary Steve Dalkowski, even those of us who never saw him 
pitch. The version of his story that you tell is different from the 
legend, though. The legend says that he couldl just never find the plate, 
and that was why his career ended. Your version of the story is much 
sadder. And the vignette at the very beginning of the book about Maury 
Wills trying to make Jeff Burroughs into a base stealer would be funny if 
it were not so deeply sad.

But on the baseball diamond, where performance is measured and quantified, 
sliced, diced, and scouted a million different ways, it's relatively easy 
to assess a subordinate's strengths. How do you do it reliably and 
consistently when you are a new manager, or even an experienced manager 
who doesn't directly supervise her subordinates' actual work product?

And does uppermost management really believe in managing to workers' 
strengths in most companies? or is uppermost management just following its 
vision of how the business should be, with little attention to the workers 
in the trenches?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #6 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 31 May 06 08:32
    
Stephanie Vardavas said:
"Let's talk about fundamentals.  {SNIP} how important are 
"fundamentals" in a modern world where we keep hearing that the old
ways don't work anymore?"

I think it's important to tease out "fundamentals" from "old ways",
because I think both exist and some things fall into both categories.

What I call fundamentals are enduring truths or systems. Gravity,
intertia and momentum, for example, are a fundamental "facts" of life
on earth. Virtually every physical artifact we produce takes one or
more of these into consideration. You gotta throw strikes to get outs
is a fundamental.

What I'll call "old ways" are automatic, not pre-meditated responses
to perceived situations. Presuming we're average, our "old way" of
dealing with tripping is to put our hands out to break the fall, but
gravity is the fundamental "fact". Throwing the breaking ball low and
away as a way to get a batter out is more an "old way" than a
fundamental -- it tends to work...until it doesn't because batters make
adjustments.

In organizational behaviors, managers have to be prepared to
re-examine "old ways", but in a stochastic way. For years, cheap
petroleum was taken as a fundamental -- managers in the automobile &
airline & grocery industry built their business models on cheap fuel. 
Some outfits planned for breaks in the system -- Southwest Airlines and
Toyota planned for $50+ barrels of oil, but they invested more
planning resources in that scenario than in $10 or $150 oil, though
they probably didn't ignore those either.

Baseball is really effective at these stochastic strategies. One "old
way" is "never make the first or last out at 3rd base", meaning don't 
take even a small risk to advance from 2nd to 3rd with 0 or 2 outs
because the percentages don't reward the risk **in general**. 

The fact is, smart baseball managers violate that principle
occasionally. Because the "old way" exists you can catch the defense
sleeping and change the odds. Because opponents know you will break
"The Book"'s guidelines, they have to distribute their responses over a
wider range of possibilities.

"The Book" in baseball responds to the fundamentals, but doesn't
institutionalize rigid adherence to "old ways". The few baseball
managers who do this, the Bitgods (acronym for Back In The Good Old
Days) tend to get removed from the pool more quickly than the others.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #7 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 31 May 06 09:08
    
Stephanie V said:
"But on the baseball diamond, where performance is measured and
quantified, sliced, diced, and scouted a million different ways, it's
relatively easy to assess a subordinate's strengths. How do you do it
reliably and consistently when you are a new manager, or even an
experienced manager who doesn't directly supervise her subordinates'
actual work product?"
+++++++++++++++++++++++
Managers *have* to set aside time to observe, measure and analyse the
staffers' work. In baseball, managers and their coaches relentlessly
test & examine players' skills (and shortcomings) in drills and in-game
settings every day of the season. It's inescapable. The adequate
managers (that's most all of them at the major league level) know by
game time who's *really* on or *really* off that day and will tweak
assignments in response to their observations. The subtle differences
not so completely. But they act on this information eventually, so
someone in a long slump generally gets a rest or some extra training or
some positive reinforcement or a kick in the pants. The great managers
generally excel because they are good at this observe/measure/analyze
cycle followed by action.

Beyond baseball, that may mean cutting back on meetings and tipping
more resources into working alongside staff as a collaborator. It will
certainly mean an attempt to measure the quality and quantity of work
produced, the design and continual sharpening of measures you can use
to track staffers' work. It will mean pushing them to higher
achievements, reasonably and always seeing how you can help them be
better at what they do through training or making work more fun or,
sometimes, kicking someone in the axe.

And a quick note about measuring work...
Most managers beyond baseball don't measure *quality*, falling back on
the easy way out, which is measuring only quantity. Even then, they
frequently botch the job, measuring the wrong thing just because it's
something that's easy to measure. Baseball has done this at times,
allowing old ways stats like Runs Batted In (actually more an
indication of opportunities-experienced than successes-achieved) or
Batting Average (not irrelevant, just marginally interesting) to
dictate tactics for too long. Sabermetrics (baseball stats that take
into account deeper analysis and frequently infused with qualitative
factors) are more sensible tools for measuring value, and all 30 major
league teams now take sabermetrics into account to varying degrees.

If a manager is not directly in touch the with the warp and woof of
what each staffer is doing, he probably should find a job that doesn't
include people who report to him -- his organization will always
benefit by having supervisors who are qualified to judge and who take
the time to observe, measure and analyze.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #8 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 31 May 06 09:40
    
Stephanie V said:
"But on the baseball diamond, where performance is measured and
quantified, sliced, diced, and scouted a million different ways, it's
relatively easy to assess a subordinate's strengths. How do you do it
reliably and consistently when you are a new manager, or even an
experienced manager who doesn't directly supervise her subordinates'
actual work product?"
+++++++++++++++++++++++
Managers *have* to set aside time to observe, measure and analyse the
staffers' work. In baseball, managers and their coaches relentlessly
test & examine players' skills (and shortcomings) in drills and in-game
settings every day of the season. It's inescapable. The adequate
managers (that's most all of them at the major league level) know by
game time who's *really* on or *really* off that day and will tweak
assignments in response to their observations. The subtle differences
not so completely. But they act on this information eventually, so
someone in a long slump generally gets a rest or some extra training or
some positive reinforcement or a kick in the pants. The great managers
generally excel because they are good at this observe/measure/analyze
cycle followed by action.

Beyond baseball, that may mean cutting back on meetings and tipping
more resources into working alongside staff as a collaborator. It will
certainly mean an attempt to measure the quality and quantity of work
produced, the design and continual sharpening of measures you can use
to track staffers' work. It will mean pushing them to higher
achievements, reasonably and always seeing how you can help them be
better at what they do through training or making work more fun or,
sometimes, kicking someone in the axe.

And a quick note about measuring work...
Most managers beyond baseball don't measure *quality*, falling back on
the easy way out, which is measuring only quantity. Even then, they
frequently botch the job, measuring the wrong thing just because it's
something that's easy to measure. Baseball has done this at times,
allowing old ways stats like Runs Batted In (actually more an
indication of opportunities-experienced than successes-achieved) or
Batting Average (not irrelevant, just marginally interesting) to
dictate tactics for too long. Sabermetrics (baseball stats that take
into account deeper analysis and frequently infused with qualitative
factors) are more sensible tools for measuring value, and all 30 major
league teams now take sabermetrics into account to varying degrees.

If a manager is not directly in touch the with the warp and woof of
what each staffer is doing, he probably should find a job that doesn't
include people who report to him -- his organization will always
benefit by having supervisors who are qualified to judge and who take
the time to observe, measure and analyze.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #9 of 103: Rich Johnson (rmj) Wed 31 May 06 13:12
    
Hi, Jeff. As someone who first read Robert Townsend's "Up the
Organization" at the age of 11 and has been a Cub fan since... well,
forever, I was pleased to see your assessments of what managers need to
do in order to create and maintain successful teams.

Several questions for you: How much of managerial churn do you think
comes from a desire to be seen "doing something" even if the something
isn't all that necessary? Secondly, along those same lines, do you
think some/many/most business managers spend a disproportionate amount
of their time trying to fix problem employees rather than keeping the
peak contributors happy and productive (again this might be a result of
the "if my bosses see me doing something highly visible, they'll think
I'm a good manager" school of thought)?

Finally (for now), as a Cub fan, how do you see Dusty Baker's
performance this year --and the Cubs' upper management behavior--
relative to the ideas in your book? I confess that while I'm not a big
proponent of the "Fire Dusty Now!" point of view, I've been absolutely
amazed to hear reports that his getting a contract extension is almost
guaranteed despite the 4-22 stretch the team endured recently.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #10 of 103: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 31 May 06 13:25
    

(Note: Offsite readers with questions or comments can send email to
 <inkwell@well.com> to have them added to the conversation)
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #11 of 103: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Wed 31 May 06 13:46
    
I'm curious as to how you came to do this book, of course. 

(Disclaimer: Jeff and I worked together
oh-my-God-was-it-twenty-years-ago-Jesus-we're-older-than-dirt at
Infoworld.)
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #12 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 31 May 06 14:31
    
Rich Johnson said:
"As someone who first read Robert Townsend's "Up the
Organization" at the age of 11 and has been a Cub fan since... well,
forever, I was pleased to see your assessments of what managers need
to
do in order to create and maintain successful teams."
+++++++++++++
The good and the bad of Townsend...the good = he wrote that over
twenty years ago, and it was a best-seller and everyone loved it...the
bad=no one followed his advice.
  
Much of my advice is parallel to his, though I hope the baseball
examples make it more actionable. He's a really smart gent.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #13 of 103: Rich Johnson (rmj) Wed 31 May 06 15:28
    
My problem when I was first a manager at 23 was that I followed
Townsend's advice too closely without thinking about the people working
for me. But that was a long time ago and I've gotten (I think) better.

Given how contrary some of your advice is to many managers (I'm
thinking of the "More with Less" and multi-tasking craze), how do you
penetrate their preconceptions?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #14 of 103: Valdemar Francisco Zialcita (dextly) Wed 31 May 06 15:30
    
Welcome, Jeff.  

I've got this book in hand now, immediately started reading through it
out of order, and hope to make practical use of it nonetheless.  I'm
particularly interested in translating the baseball model into a plan
for launching a theatre company.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #15 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 31 May 06 21:46
    
Sharon Lynne Fisher said:
I'm curious as to how you came to do this book, of course. 
++++++++++++++
A lot of different factors. 

1) I have worked as a manager or a consultant to help managers since
even before we worked together. I've worked for a lot of poor managers
and even more individuals who were managers with easily-fixed flaws
their own supervisors didn't realize were making them destructive of
their organization's mission. I worked in a lot of different fields, so
I got some perspective on what worked universally and what was purely
endeavor-specific. So I always wanted to write a how-to management
guide that internalised my knowledge and that of the good managers I've
met over the years. I knew no-one would publish that book. But I have
always used baseball management lessons with American managers because
baseball is such an open system and most people have some intersection
with it. And because it's a natural medium for the transmission of
legends and stories, in the good American tradition of folk-tale
telling.

2) I really wanted to get out of depending on tech work (not getting
out of doing it altogether, just not to be dependent on it anymore),
and this was an avenue that was very disconnected from tech.

3) I really wanted to out some of the terrible managers I've worked
for over the years, from Stewk to Jon and Sharon H to Kathleen and and
to pay some tribute to the great ones I've worked with over the years
from Rachel and Gary to Jen and Big and Scotwell. This was a good way
to do it.

4) The best single manager I ever worked for, Rachel, taught me many
lessons, but the most important was this: That the most important thing
a good manager can do is replicate their cognitive DNA and infuse it
into the overall system. After doing that for many years working in a
handful or small organizations at a time, this book is a mechanism for
a larger and broader form of replication.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #16 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Wed 31 May 06 21:52
    

I confess that I haven't been paying much attention to Dusty Baker's 
managerial decisions this year (I'm mainly an AL fan), but I'd like to 
hear more. Is it related at all to the "loyalty" question?

Jef, you talk about Jim Fregosi's misplaced loyalty to Mitch "Wild Thing" 
Williams. I was thinking about a couple of John McNamara's questionable 
personnel decisions during the 1986 World Series -- Bob Stanley, Bill 
Buckner, etc. I'm pretty sure I heard McNamara use the phrase, "you dance 
with them that brung ya."

I think it is a greater service to "them that brung ya" to get them into 
the biggest party. But loyalty is very understandable in the abstract, as 
well as understandable as a tool to obtain loyal behavior from 
subordinates.  How much loyalty is too much?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #17 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 31 May 06 22:04
    
Valdemar Francisco Zialcita said:
I've got this book in hand now, immediately started reading through it
out of order, and hope to make practical use of it nonetheless.  I'm
particularly interested in translating the baseball model into a plan
for launching a theatre company.
++++++++++++
Wow. I hope you'll be willing to read it in order (even if it means
skipping over bits you find are tools you already know or have better
analogues for or bits you find boring). The skill sets really build out
in a fairly linear order (drama analogy: You *could* stage a
Shakespeare history by scrambling the scenes, but if the audience
didn't have background in the story already, its narrative arc would be
a mite turbid; but if you chose to hack out scenes or use a different
folio, while customizing the script to your purposes, it might work
better). 

Anyway, theatre company has some good and difficult fits. In theatre,
as in baseball, there are two great, overriding imperatives for
successful delivery: crisp logistics and getting and nurturing great
talent. Let's face it, The Talent Is The Product. That "My Left Foot"
remake with Adam Sandler and Pink never even got released, and Kenny G
album of Iron Maiden covers belly-flopped. But execution from trades
work to marketing, from scheduling to all the off-stage skills (props,
make-up, etc.) is the very foundation that supports the success of the
talent. That's pure baseball parallel.

On the difficult side (and I hate to admit when baseball is a bad
fit), theatre can succeed and fail in more ways that most anything
else, including baseball. There are so many kinds of theatre, and most
of them rely on more random luck than most endeavors. My folks were in
theatre; they were really smart (though wacky), but they never managed
to figure out what the patterns that lead to success or failure were.

I think the key lessons from the book that might teach or reinforce
your better instincts though are learning when and how to delegate
(lots of skill sets required and no one person is likely to have 'em
all in one body), respect for time and schedules,
observing/measuring/analysing the talent and making sure they are
getting what they need to succeed, the importance of letting everyone
be a star/hero on a regular basis and the importance of adapting to
changes in the market.

Best of luck in your endeavor. I respect the heck out of anyone with
the courage to take on such an imposing Odyssey. Break a rosin bag.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #18 of 103: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Wed 31 May 06 22:06
    
I wonder what business would be like if managers could trade employees
like players.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #19 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 31 May 06 22:16
    
Rich Johnson said:
Given how contrary some of your advice is to many managers (I'm
thinking of the "More with Less" and multi-tasking craze), how do you
penetrate their preconceptions?
++++++++++++

Well, I *am* a contrarian. But the More With Less Cult is prima facie
absurd. I love using baseball to expose it. When I do readings, there
is always some maniac, usually a very intelligent one, who will go
tirebiter on it and try to convince the crowd otherwise. And, of
course, there are a small thimbleful of exceptions (about the number of
good ballpark nachos with that scary plastic pump-cheese, that is, not
very many). They end up arguing a Billy Beane case (The Same for Less)
more often than not.

As far as the multi-tasking is concerned, I think most folk know it
degrades both quality and quantity, but I think they are stuck with the
Permafrost Economy of increasing volume with lowered margins and
trying to make up for it with layoffs or offshoring to Red Chinese
prison labor or second- or third world sweatshops, a self-amplifying
cycle of lowered quality and margins and differentiation. The data is
there. It doesn't work. I think I mentioned in the book, I did serious
controlled studies of my own that reinforce the academic finds. There
are just very few humans who can succeed that way, and most of them
aren't in value-added work.

So in the case of More With Less, I engage resisters in Socratic
dialogue (Socrates was a Phillies fan). In the multi-tasking rassle, I
lay down the research, but am resigned to the fact that no matter how
much truth you deliver, the victims are afraid to escape or can't
gather the courage to break from the implicit bonds of it. One still
has to try, IMNSHO.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #20 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 31 May 06 22:34
    
Rich Johnson said:
Finally (for now), as a Cub fan, how do you see Dusty Baker's
performance this year --and the Cubs' upper management behavior--
relative to the ideas in your book? I confess that while I'm not a big
proponent of the "Fire Dusty Now!" point of view, I've been absolutely
amazed to hear reports that his getting a contract extension is almost
guaranteed despite the 4-22 stretch the team endured recently.
  AND
Stephanie said:
I haven't been paying much attention to Dusty Baker's managerial
decisions this year (I'm mainly an AL fan), but I'd like to 
hear more. Is it related at all to the "loyalty" question?
++++++++++++

I don't think the Cubs problem this year is a loyalty question. Their
offense has collapsed. They are dead last in runs scored and dead last
in slugging and dead last in walks. His star player is out, the only
other muscle in the line-up is in a slump. He has only two players
performing over expectations/norms and they are not impact players
regardless.

  http://tinyurl.com/s37jl

Baker takes a lot of hits for his tactics, but this is the team he has
to work with. His greatest skill is using individuals' strengths to
their max and buffering his talent from the press and upper management.
Players tend to be very loyal to him. But loyalty can fail when things
go as badly as the Cubs season has; once the players lose faith, it's
very hard to recover it. And their total lack of punch has forced him
to revert to a game he doesn't really care for much -- a lot of bunting
and one-run strategies, which aren't working out well.

In the book, I talk about the Law of Problem Evolution, and I thik
this may be Baker's Black Lodge. The longer a manager is in a position,
the higher the ratio of remaining problems are the ones that she can't
solve -- if she could, they likely wouldn't be there any more. So
without some great personal leap or epiphany, managers can get stale
and surrounded by little nagging problem plaque that builds up...any
one bit of which is trivial but the silt gets to be of a magnitude that
it can overwhelm the manager.

If he moves on to another team, it's likely he'll go back to being
magic again...not certain, but likely.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #21 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 31 May 06 22:39
    
Sharon Fisher said:
I wonder what business would be like if managers could trade employees
like players.
+++++++++++++++

Hey, it can be done. I've done it, and I've worked with clients to do
it in their shops. It happened to me when I worked at InformationWeek.
I was reporting on the news side, and they were both one body short in
reviews and had a news talent they really wanted to hire. They dumped
me on the reviews editor because I had all that reviews experience,
too.

It works well if someone is failing, too. People don't HAVE to be laid
off or left to repeat their failures. If the organization is big
enough, one can find him another job at which he should succeed. It
requires a lot of observation, measurement and analysis, and it
involves engaging the talent to find out what talents they have that
they're not currently using, but it's 50x less expensive than the
classic alternative.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #22 of 103: Rich Johnson (rmj) Thu 1 Jun 06 10:09
    
I don't have easy access to it at the moment, but last year Dusty was
in the middle of the pack for having his non-pitchers lay down bunts
and my memory is saying that he's never been shy about using one-run
strategies (certainly batting Neifi Perez second is one-run strategy
all by itself).
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #23 of 103: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Thu 1 Jun 06 10:16
    
These few posts about the Cubs remind me of a dilemma I've faced
several times as a corporate manager and that I see baseball managers
face all the time: how to encourage better performance from pure
mediocrity. Trying to do it has nearly killed me from stress in some
jobs.  
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #24 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Thu 1 Jun 06 15:10
    
Rich Johnson said:
I don't have easy access to it at the moment, but last year Dusty was
in the middle of the pack for having his non-pitchers lay down bunts
and my memory is saying that he's never been shy about using one-run
strategies (certainly batting Neifi Perez second is one-run strategy
all by itself).
++++++++
Well, batting Neifi Perez anywhere in a major league lineup is
actually like a no-run strategy. And this year their bunting is at the
top of the pack...but the alternatives w/o their best hitter injured,
and their next-biggest threat in the Doldrums are limited. Which leads
us to...

Steve Bjerklie said:
These ..remind me of a dilemma I've faced several times as a corporate
manager and that I see baseball managers face all the time: how to
encourage better performance from pure mediocrity. Trying to do it has
nearly killed me from stress in some jobs. 

+++++++++

AMEN companero. I always say the single most important decisions most
organizations make are who to hire, how to cultivate and when to purge
people. Places that aren't good at this accumulate a lot of human
plaque. Thos laggards don't always NEED to be plaque. A learning
organizations will invest in finding out what they can and can't do,
train and tweak job descriptions & processes to take advantage of the
talent at hand. But ultimately, one is limited by the talent on hand
**AND** its appropriateness to the jobs required. 

     No one could manage the 2006 Kansas City Royals to 73 wins. No
one. Still, I believe it's a manager's job (as Chuck Tanner who won a
world series in 1979) said, to get the absolute most out of the staff
and situation at hand. One may get fired for limits beyond one's
control, but one owes the employer their best. Their best includes,
btw, truth-telling. If the organization is unhealthy and insisting on
hiring duds or just not paying attention, a manager owes them a warning
or five.
     
But it's really frustrating for managers in baseball and beyond to
know *how* to win, but not have the roster that can.

Did you find anything designed to improve sub-standard talents that
worked for you?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #25 of 103: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Thu 1 Jun 06 15:38
    <scribbled by stevebj Thu 1 Jun 06 15:47>
  

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