If you think baseball is just the national pastime, think again. According to management consultant and ex-baseball reporter Jeff Angus in his book Management by Baseball: The Official Rules for Winning Management in Any Field baseball can teach you everything you need to know about management. From the managers’ strategies to the players’ batting averages, baseball can impart critical lessons on project management, maximizing productivity of staff, strategic planning, facing difficult organizational challenges, or engaging big changes in a specific industry or the economy.
In his book, Angus distills the lessons learned from baseball news and applies them to business management. He uses baseball stories and anecdotes from baseball history to teach management skills and illustrate ways to approach and solve problems that a business owner or manager may face.
Management by Baseball is based on the “baseball diamond” model, which has four “bases.” These bases are the skills sets that an effective manager requires — operational management, people management, self-management, and change management. As Angus said, “Like a baseball player trying to score a run, a manager has to touch all the bases and do it in sequential order.”
First Base: Managing the Mechanics
According to Angus, “the first skill a manager must muster to be a success is operational management.”
The manager must be able to handle the resources it possesses efficiently, including time, money and tools of the trade. The manager must also be skilled in setting goals and objectives, negotiation, recognizing patterns, and knowing how and when to delegate. Angus said,
“If you master operational management, you’ll be better than 65% of your peers because that’s how many managers never get safely to first base: You can’t score unless you reach first base.”
Second Base: Managing Talent
While managers may hold the fort, it is the players who win the games. As such, people management is an integral element of effective management. The second base involves recruiting, hiring, mentoring, motivating, disciplining, removing, training and experimenting. Angus described it as, “Great baseball managers know how to get the most out of a team over a long season by understanding how to evaluate and motivate players, and when and how to hire and fire them.” For example, Yankee manager Joe Torre’s people management approach is to smooth the egos of the stars while keeping the bench players alert and fresh.
Third Base: Managing Yourself
Self-awareness is the key to the third base. Angus wrote, “The most successful managers in and out of baseball learn enough about their own habits, biases, and strengths to overcome preconceived notions.” They are able to look beyond generational bias, conduct self-analysis that can lead to corrective measures, as well as understand how to control impulses to create better decisions.
Home Plate : Managing Change – and Driving It
The first three bases of the model are fueled by the “ability to recognize lessons from experience of both the present and the past.” The last element “getting home ” involves managing or even driving change. The best baseball managers know how to adapt to significant changes in the game.
The book is a short and easy read (well, easy if you know baseball!). From analysis of players’ scores to retelling of insider anecdotes, the book is an entertaining read of the business lessons that can be gleaned from America’s national pastime.