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What Professional Baseball Can Teach Professional Managers
Or why well-managed teams make it into the playoffs.

Last night I found myself yelling at my television as I watched my favorite baseball team go down to defeat again in the ninth inning. I couldn’t believe that a highly-paid, experienced manager could make such blatantly idiotic misjudgments. I know spring training games don't count, but you have to create a winning culture and not accept failure.

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Can you win without a great manager? Is it likely? Who is going to win the Series? Do they have the best manager in the game?

It All Starts Opening Day In honor of the Major League Baseball's Opening Day, I thought I would offer my observations on the similarities between baseball and business. To win at either you need talent, a good manager, and leadership.

My team will probably make the playoffs this year, but it will be despite the manager, not because of him. It's that way in business too. Sometimes a company has so much talent that it can survive poor management, but that is rare. There are a lot of similarities between baseball and business. If you want a good chance of succeeding in either, it helps to have the best managers.

Every Spring, each team is a contender. Every fan thinks his team can make it to the playoffs, at least. Think about how the same factors apply in running a successful baseball team as in running a successful business. Generally the teams with the best managers make it to the playoffs and to the World Series. In business, too, it is usually the best managed companies that succeed. Are you the best managed company in your market?

As a management consultant I advise business managers every day on the best ways to get the most out of the limited resources they have at their disposal. We all deal with production problems, personnel difficulties, and aggressive competitors. The only difference between that management consulting and the advice I was trying to give to the baseball manager was that he couldn’t hear me yelling at the TV.

So Here It Is. If the baseball team asked me, in my capacity as a professional management consultant, to meet with their top management and help them identify and correct the problems that are causing them to lose revenue, customers, and stockholder loyalty, this is what I would tell them.

I encourage you to look at these things and see if they fit your favorite sports team too or, even better, how they apply to your business.

Part 2 My assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a professional baseball team as it conducts its business of playing the game.

Part 3 My recommendations to the senior management (manager and coaches) of the baseball team on how to improve the effeciency, quality, and profitability of their operation.

Part 4 My apology to those of you who are not sports fans.

John Reh
Management Guide

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