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Management by Baseball: The Official Rules for Winning Managemen

Management by Baseball: The Official Rules for Winning Managemen

by Jeff Angus

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What do Hall of Fame baseball managers like Connie Mack and John McGraw have in common with today's business leaders? Why are baseball managers like Joe Torre and Dusty Baker better role models for business, government, and non–profit management than respected corporate giants like Jack Welch and Bill Gates? And just what does Peter Drucker have to do with


What do Hall of Fame baseball managers like Connie Mack and John McGraw have in common with today's business leaders? Why are baseball managers like Joe Torre and Dusty Baker better role models for business, government, and non–profit management than respected corporate giants like Jack Welch and Bill Gates? And just what does Peter Drucker have to do with Oriole ex–manager Earl Weaver?

Management consultant, baseball writer, and columnist for InformationWeek, Computerworld, and InfoWorld, Jeff Angus shows how anyone can become a better manager by taking lessons from the leaders and nuances of the one game that is the truest test of managerial prowess. As proven by Angus' highly popular blog, Management by Baseball is a fun, story–filled guide that gives managers and anyone in business practical, actionable, understandable tools they can use to improve performance:

How do you start an organization from scratch? Take a page from baseball's 19th century origins.

How do you adapt to changing markets and social conditions? Learn from the man who invented Babe Ruth.

What are the simplest ways to turn around a weak department? Pick up Dick Williams' proven tactics.

How do you redesign corporate strategy in response to your competitors? Learn Joe Torre's secret advantage.

How do you develop emotional intelligence as a leader? Find out how Ichiro Suzuki made his transition from Japan to the Major Leagues a historic success

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As a management consultant who has published articles not only on business but also on major league baseball, Angus had an epiphany: baseball is more than America's favorite pastime; it's a metaphor for management. The lessons Angus was helping corporate executives learn by day were the same ones he saw acted out at the ballpark by night. And he had better success helping his day-job clients solve problems when their situations were described in terms of their sporting counterparts. Angus's book takes a trot around the diamond as he shares winning and losing strategies from the dugout. We learn the best and worst of how baseball managers do everything from decision-making to hiring/firing, and managing change. While best appreciated by hard-core baseball fans, this is a worthwhile addition to public library business collections. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Management by Baseball

The Official Rules for Winning Management in Any Field
By Jeff Angus

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Jeff Angus
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0061119075

Chapter One

The View from the Blimp

If I have seen further it is by standing
on the shoulders of The Giants.

-- Sir Isaac Newton

Winning at managing in organizations is much like winning baseball games. In baseball, the team that wins is the one that scores the most runs, so the act of scoring a run is the key objective. To score a run, you have to touch each of the bases safely, and you have to do it in order.

You can't reverse the order, like the Philadelphia Athletics' Harry Davis tried in 1902. In a game with the Tigers, Davis attempted a double steal with a teammate on third. The idea of this play is to force the catcher to throw to second under pressure; an off-target throw, or a bobble on the play by the infielder, will allow the runner on third to break for home with a strong likelihood of scoring. In this game, Davis's attempt didn't draw a throw, and he successfully stole second, but it wasn't the run-scoring play he had in mind. So on the next pitch, Davis took off from second base for first base, stealing in reverse in an attempt to coax a throw out of the unyielding catcher. A few pitches later, he stole second again,this time drawing a throw, and his teammate scored from third. A couple of other players tried this maneuver, and two succeeded, but umpires stopped allowing it after 1907. In baseball, you can't change the order you run the bases.

Neither can you cut corners running from first to third by hustling straight through the pitcher's mound while skipping second base -- you'd be called out. Besides, Roger Clemens would throw a broken bat at you, and with his velocity and from that distance, he'd skewer you like a kebab.

In the practice of management beyond baseball, there are four sequential stops as well. Your best chance for success at managing requires you to master or at least be adequate in four main skill sets: operational management, people management, self-awareness, and meeting change. As in baseball, you can't skip any. If you don't touch a base on the way to the next one, learning each skill set in sequence, you're likely to fail in your goal of being a good manager.

Safe at First -- Starting a Rally With the Basics

A fellow bossing a big league ballclub is busier than
a one-armed paperhanger with hives.

-- Ty Cobb

The first skill a manager must master to be a success is operational management, working with inanimate objects. These objects include resources such as time, money, and tools of the trade. Other objects are conceptual designs, such as work processes, rules, and guidelines (and the skill of knowing when to ignore them). Operational management also involves setting goals and objectives, negotiating, recognizing patterns, and knowing how and when to delegate.

In the early 20th century, professional management was all about using this process/procedure/tools skills set, and it pretty much ignored everything else. In large part, that's because management as we know it was something that had been developed, as Peter Drucker has explained so tidily, by government to improve results on governmental projects (translation: very big, very complex projects that brook no creativity once set in motion).

Large corporations, looking for greater success in the mass production of hard goods (which factory owners saw as analogous to the mass production of soldiers), asked, "Why can't business be more like government?" Corporations adopted government's model of professional management, and with that, inherited government's values and limitations. That's why it's inevitable that most giant companies have the same kind of strengths (and weaknesses) that government agencies of the same size do. That's why the management practices taught in the generic MBA programs (funded by and for giant companies and government agencies) fail so universally in smaller, more entrepreneurial businesses and other types of organizations. And why they fail to blunt the mass dementia of certain management beliefs, such as the "More with Less" cult that has undermined so many outfits.

Rant follows. I won't do this often.

Successful management, however, is about the distance of a Barry Bonds home run away from just mastering operational management, as we'll see as we motor around first base later in the book to build on additional, vital skills. I'm not underestimating how critical operational management is -- without getting to first successfully, you're never going to score, and as Casey Stengel was quoted as saying, "You can't steal first base." If you master operational management, you'll be better than 65 percent of your peers, because that's how many managers never get safely to first base.

Part 1 covers a lot of what you need to know about operational management and provides some of the rules for mastering it. This form of management is like the major leagues' spring training, where a good record doesn't guarantee a winning regular season, but if a team expects to have a successful campaign, it has to be diligent and serious during February and March.

Getting to Second Base --
People Are the Keystone (Corner)

A manager wins games in December. He tries not to lose them in July. You win pennants in the off-season when you build your teams
with trades and free agents.

-- Earl Weaver

On our Field of Schemes, it's only when you've gotten safely to first that you try for second base: managing people.

As numbers- and operations-driven a dude as Earl Weaver is, he considered the individual batter-versus-pitcher performance tracking he did only a small edge, not a foundation of his success. Again and again, he reminded his own management and the press that the players won the games, not him. If you think it was just hyperbole, look at the most successful contemporary managers. They have what's called high "emotional intelligence," a set of attributes defined by researchers John Mayer, Peter Salovey, and others, and then popularized by Daniel Goleman in the book Emotional Intelligence. The aptitude includes an individual's ability to recognize the meanings of emotions, and to reason and problem-solve on the basis of emotions, as well as the capacity to perceive, understand, and manage them.


Excerpted from Management by Baseball by Jeff Angus Copyright © 2006 by Jeff Angus. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jeff Angus is an award-winning manager and management consultant. He is 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. He's written about business for leading national magazines and on baseball for numerous newspapers and other media. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his family.

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