inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #76 of 103: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 11 Jun 06 06:12
    
I'm not clear on what 'this situation' is.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #77 of 103: Carl LaFong (mcdee) Sun 11 Jun 06 08:49
    
Being a clueful person working under clueless superiors.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #78 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Sun 11 Jun 06 13:58
    
Sharon -- What Carl said.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #79 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Sun 11 Jun 06 14:02
    
SHARON:
So we shared a terribly underperforming supervisor, J Michael. Not
exactly clueless, but more concerned with managing up and staying
around in a Theory XYY organization long enough to vest his pension
than he was in making an effective organization.

You did well as a manager in that organization for quite a while --
how did you manage J Michael to your section (and your own) benefit? 
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #80 of 103: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 11 Jun 06 15:17
    
Huh. I'd never really thought of him as being underperforming, though
I agree with your description of his motivations now that you mention
it.

I dunno, it was never really a problem and I didn't end up dealing
with him much. That organization hired a layer of management around
that time, and we were given a fair amount of freedom to do what we
thought was important. Unless we did something stupid, we were pretty
much left alone. I was blessed with a couple of very good employees, so
I looked good, and it didn't take me much work to put together a nice
section with them. (In comparison to another person there I'm thinking
of, who would work 12 hours a day and do a much less competent job,
while I left at 5; I think time spent becomes counterproductive after a
while.)

I do remember the supervisor you mention getting on me about the
condition of my office, though.

Other than that, I pretty much gave the appearance, at least, of
knowing what I was doing, and as far as that organization went, I did.

Then I started getting grief from a higher level about why I was
spending so much time and space covering that Internet crap, and I kept
insisting that it was important, and then one day I made the fatal
mistake of, when that person came up behind me on a Thursday afternoon
to ask me a question, continuing to type rather than stopping typing to
turn around and look at him to answer the question. Because of that,
he decided I was rude, went around to the newsroom to see whether other
people had ever thought I was rude, and before the end of the day I
got put on probation for being rude.

Then that supervisor you mention got put in charge of my probation,
and he gave me the list of things I was supposed to accomplish to get
off it. Since the list was essentially impossible, I coasted for the
first two weeks of the four-week probation and then gave notice.
Ironically, I'd been planning to quit to go full time freelance in
January anyway, so what ended up happening instead was I went to Comdex
on my own nickel and used it to launch my freelance career, which I
did successfully for three years, til I got two competing job offers
from other magazines and took one.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #81 of 103: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 11 Jun 06 16:41
    
I should add, the person you mention, I feel that his focus was
primarily on operation, not vision. The person who told me to quit
writing all those Internet stories, that was the vision guy.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #82 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Sun 11 Jun 06 23:11
    

Sharon, that's pretty outrageous.

What year was that?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #83 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Mon 12 Jun 06 11:46
    
SHARON:
You sort of half-defend J Michael, but really he participated actively
in the sickness, did nothing to stop the Theory XYY behavior. He was
part of the reason the organization was so unhealthy.

Just to put it in perspective for others, this organization produced a
lot of high-quality work. The staff was good. And vision guy could be
very effective (though his vision wasn't very visionary). A lot of
smart people working very hard even for a second rate management team
can be very effective in the short term. Vision guy's sociopath-like
behavior undermined it constantly, but it still basically functioned
and delivered. Eventually, he got rid of enough high performers for
self-indulgent (pulling the wings off dragon-flies to watch them
squirm) reasons that the staff wasn't good enough (or motivated enough)
to overcome the overhead of his XYY behaviors. 

This doesn't happen much in baseball. The last time I can think of was
the 1954-1966 Boston Red Sox when owner Tom Yawkey ran his shop like
that. But it's such a losing model for an org in an endeavour as
competitive as baseball, you don't see it last long. 

But back to J Michael. You're right, he was the operations guy...just
like a concentration camp guard who didn't actually hate gypsies or
jewish folk, he was just making sure the "showers" ran on schedule.
Without guys like him, though, the "vision guys" can do their thing.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #84 of 103: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Mon 12 Jun 06 15:53
    
Gosh, that's really an overly harsh analogy, at least in my
experience.

vard, that was in 1988.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #85 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Mon 12 Jun 06 23:44
    


How would you characterize the guy and his role, Sharon? It's really 
interesting to see you and Jeff discussing him from different 
perspectives.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #86 of 103: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 13 Jun 06 06:42
    
Well, like I said, he was the operations guy. He wanted to make sure
the book got out every week, on time, with reasonable content, but he
didn't have any particular investment in the *sort* of stories we
should be doing as a whole. I think characterizing him as "I was just
following orders" is overly harsh. I know that he sometimes felt
alienated in that atmosphere as well. This was his day job, not his
career. You know?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #87 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Tue 13 Jun 06 14:46
    


I think most of us have worked with people like that and some of us have 
probably been people like that (or appeared to others to be).
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #88 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Tue 13 Jun 06 17:12
    
We're getting far away from MBB, but I hold J Michael accountable for
two reasons, one general, one specific.

The general one he was not a barista -- he was making really big
bucks, well into six figures in current dollars. When an organization
pays you that much money, you owe it "career" commitment (not "day job"
commitment) whether you really feel that way or not. And his choices
ended up costing the organization a lot.

The specific one was just a transgression that crosses my moral line,
which is he knowingly lied about an important personnel issue -- not to
help the organization, but for his own personal comfort. One can't be
an effective manager (beyond a very short period of time) if one makes
a habit of perfidy.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #89 of 103: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 13 Jun 06 17:25
    
Ah. You know, I figured that you must knew of some incident I did not
know or recall that colored your opinion. 

>choices ended up costing the organization a lot

I'd be curious to hear more about that, in private if you think this
digression has gone on long enough.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #90 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Tue 13 Jun 06 23:48
    


>in private

NOT ON YOUR LIFE. We can't just let you two take this offline!

Jeff, I still want to hear about your clients and how they adopt/adapt 
your theories to their issues.  
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #91 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 14 Jun 06 09:36
    
STEPHANIE SAID:
I still want to hear about your clients and how they adopt/adapt 
your theories to their issues. 

+++++++++
It's uneven. The most common adoption model is a client that gets the
analogy when I present it, and is able to see the situation more
clearly that way, but doesn't go on to develop MBB models of her own.
My favorite engagements are when a client brings observations to the
mix she wouldn't have had without the "shock" of the baseball analogue,
and we use them either whole cloth or synthesized with my own tools.

When I'm given a lot of latitude (I sometimes only take on a client
when I can negotiate that in advance) I will inject a baseball model
not usually found outside the sport or experiment with one. This
doesn't happen as often as I'd like, but it does happen.

Occasionally, nothing happens...the baseball analogy is either an
emphemeral data point for them (acted on, then forgotten) or simply
clangs off their cognates. We all know no one thing works for
*everybody*, and baseball is one thing. This last, no-op doesn't happen
often, in part because I listen to a person for a while before I try
to communicate myself -- I am pretty effective at recognizing in
advance who is incapable of learning by analogy. That gap is like color
blindness -- when I was young and naive, I thought it meant "stupid",
but there are people who just don't *do* any analogy.

A few clients have been so close to the baseball models already that
they find it easy to adopt others. (they are already Talent IS The
Product places, and with a healthy appreciation for how important it is
for management to make the staff successful, as a rule).
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #92 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Wed 14 Jun 06 11:36
    

I wanted to remind everyone that a "cheat sheet" of sorts for MBB is 
online at   http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/mbm/

There's some promotional material for the book, some blurbs, and a great 
summary/series of excerpts that will give the reader the concept even if 
you don't have time right now to read the book cover to cover.


Jeff, what about promotions? Are you doing a reading tour? I think I asked 
you above if you will be passing through "a bookstore near [us]" anytime 
soon. Does your publisher "get" this book and have a good handle on how to 
promote it?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #93 of 103: It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Wed 14 Jun 06 12:46
    
Do you find that non-baseball people are able to get your metaphors 
clearly, even though they don't have a good grasp of the game?
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #94 of 103: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 14 Jun 06 14:18
    

It's hard to believe that it's been two weeks since you first joined us,
Jeff. This has been a great discussion and we thank you and Stephanie for
being our guests.

Though our virtual spotlight has turned to a new interview, that doesn't
mean this one has to stop. The topic will remain open indefinitely for
further comments. Please stick around if you can, and if you can't, at least
tell us where we can see you in person at a reading!
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #95 of 103: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Wed 14 Jun 06 17:47
    
Some of the MBB points and experience reminds me of the problems
getting industry to adopt modern concepts of quality especially as it
applies to management, particularly upper management. Perhaps this
applies to Demings idea of profound knowledge among others as well. Any
comments on these or other such antecedents?

The baseball analogy, as far as I can appreciate it from the
discussion, seems very powerful indeed. 
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #96 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 14 Jun 06 22:12
    
CYNTHIA ASKED
Jeff, what about promotions? Are you doing a reading tour? I think I
asked you above if you will be passing through "a bookstore near [us]"
anytime soon. 
+++

Monday, June 19, 7:30 p.m.
Black Oak in Berkeley on Shattuck
It would be great if some of the participants here came to have
dialogue or lurkers came to ask questions (or lurk). If you don't know
Black Oak, it is the finest kind of bookstore with the finest staff I
know if.

CYNTHIA ALSO ASKED:
Does your publisher "get" this book and have a good handle on how to 
promote it?
+++++++++

I'd say "yes, pretty much so". The structure of the business itself
makes it hard to promote a book that draws from two diverse audience
groups. I think they've done a good job, a great job if you consider
the resources the staff have had to work with.
  Collins and I disagree on one point (and remember this is their
business, not mine); it seems like they feel a lot of a book's success
depends on luck, that there's only so much a publisher or author can do
and that much of it rests in the hands of The Fates.
    While I acknowledge fate plays a role (imagine if one's book was
due to hit shelves 9/12/01), I believe what Branch Rickey believed:
"Luck is the residue of design"...that either way, we have to behave as
though our fate is almost all in our hands. 
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #97 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 14 Jun 06 22:16
    
Cogito, Ergo Spero said:
Some of the MBB points and experience reminds me of the problems
getting industry to adopt modern concepts of quality especially as it
applies to management, particularly upper management. Perhaps this
applies to Demings idea of profound knowledge among others as well.
Any
comments on these or other such antecedents?
+++++++++

Deming is in the book (well, he was mostly cut for space reasons, but
there's still a little bit of him).

I need to address your point in detail and I'm about to go to the
airport. I hope to answer your important question midday tomorrow. But
quality (vs the usual quantity obsession) is one of the vital areas
where baseball proves without doubt what works in a competitive system.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #98 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Wed 14 Jun 06 22:19
    
 It's all done with mirrors asked:
Do you find that non-baseball people are able to get your metaphors 
clearly, even though they don't have a good grasp of the game?
+++++++++

Many do and some don't. Some of the stories are mostly people stories.
Some rest on adequate knowledge of the game's rhythms.

I think all business books with real points leave some people behind,
and I suspect this one does, too, as hard as a tried to make it flat
out entertaining as well as useful.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #99 of 103: Stephanie Vardavas (vard) Thu 15 Jun 06 13:57
    


We'll look for you tomorrow afternoon or evening, jeff! Safe travels.
  
inkwell.vue.274 : Jeff Angus, "Management by Baseball"
permalink #100 of 103: Jeff Angus (jeff-angus) Thu 15 Jun 06 17:55
    
TO REPEAT AND FLESH OUT THE response...Cogito, Ergo Spero said:
Some of the MBB points and experience reminds me of the problems
getting industry to adopt modern concepts of quality especially as it
applies to management, particularly upper management. Perhaps this
applies to Demings idea of profound knowledge among others as well.
Any comments on these or other such antecedents?
+++++++++

The classic legs of the Deming stance, rigorous
obervation/monitoring/analysis before implementation, acceptance of
change as an imperative, systemic thinking, stochastic/flexible
approaches rather than cast-in-concrete autonomic solutions, are all
standards in baseball.

Deming probably didn't get it from baseball, but baseball was doing it
before he got his first college degree. 

The diff between Deming's effort to diffuse these (baseball-like)
practices to industrial organizations, esecpially publically-traded
ones (as opposed to owner-operated) is the management, especially upper
management, sluffs accountability, **AND CAN**. In baseball, you can't
fluff the record, there IS no Enron in baseball, because the box
score, the instant replays, the year-to-date stats, all make
transparent who is doing what. 

Yes, upper management in most publically-traded companies reject
quality because they can "do without it" and it leaves them less
subject to accountability. In baseball, no one (outside of Kansas City
for the last 5 years) can escape the reality of quotidian success or
failure.

In the end, though, we have to try for quality, and they way to push
things in that direction, as I posted here earlier, is to crazy-glue
accountability in every day in every way one can.

Make sense? What do you think?
  

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