“Small ball” versus “Gorilla ball” in the workplace

In keeping with my earlier post about how baseball and business coincide we will use this inning or post to look at two different styles, two different strategies, that employees and companies use to be successful in the workplace.  Let me explain the difference in “baseball terms” and the relate to the workplace.

Small ball in baseball terms defines when a team takes a more process oriented approach to the game.  Teams who use the small ball approach look to keep the run scoring process going using stolen bases, sacrifices and other techniques that advance runners.  In addition, teams using the small ball approach are not trying to hit the ball out of the park on every pitch and they train players to hit for contact and location and less for distance.  Small ball teams can be very innovative and pesky to play, but they sometimes lack the pizzazz of the long ball team.

Long ball teams take more of a big-hit approach.  While they still hit for contact like the small ball team, they also use players to make the big hit, typically a home run, to score and win games.  The down side to the long ball approach is that long ball hitters typically strike out much more than small ball teams.  Their batting average is also typically lower as is their on base percentage.  Long ball teams have more of a “feast or famine” approach.

American culture typically favors the long ball approach.  In baseball it is easy to remember who the hitters are with the most home runs in history, but small ball players are not as celebrated or recognized.

The workplace can be somewhat the same.  American business has been more of a fan of “revolution” and not “evolution”.  I remember well my days of working with the Japanese.  The Japanese management method resembles small ball in that we were always looking for ways to improve the process, to advance the runner, to improve what we do.  Most American business owners or leaders were looking for the big hit, the big innovation, to make a marked improvement and not just advance the runner.

This has changed to some degree in companies with a Lean or Six Sigma philosophy.  The challenge is that many American companies fall behind because they don’t make enough incremental improvements because they are always “swinging for the fences” in their daily approach.

What about your company?  Are you a small ball or a gorilla ball/long ball company?

Do you employ Lean and/or Six Sigma techniques to make incremental improvements in your work?

Small ball teams put the pressure on their opponent every play.  Small ball companies with their incremental improvement also do the same to their competitors.

Most small ball teams get little publicity.  The challenge is to stick to your plan and not try to swing for the fences in your everyday work.

Advance that runner, make that improvement, and your company will be successful.

We will talk more in our next post about how players are geared for small ball versus gorilla ball.

See you next inning.