Baseball and Business-Let the games begin

Those who know me well, I mean really well, understand that my life is a series of analogies and connections.  My mind has always functioned in an analogous method and I really enjoy connecting with others and also seeing how small things fit together into a larger picture.

I often hear others complain about baseball and that only tells me that they don’t seem to understand the game.  Baseball and business are so similar and I see more and more connections every day.  This post will be the first of several that should help you better understand just how well baseball explains business.  Having a firm understanding of baseball and the strategy involved will only better prepare you to understand how business operates.  Read on and you too will see just how well baseball explains business.

There are several key roles on a baseball team.  Let me run through a few to get this inning started:

  • Utility Infielder
  • Free Agent
  • Starting Pitcher
  • Relief Pitcher
  • Manager
  • Coach
  • Owner

Don’t feel lost, let me quickly explain how these all fit with business.

Utility infielders on a baseball team have the ability to play many roles.  Some play all infield positions and the really rare ones can play infield and outfield.  Utility players in business have similar capacity and they have had the experience in their career to prepare them to play just about any role your company might have.  I am sure you can think of someone who fits this role.

Free Agents are those individuals that you have to pay more for to play a big role in the company.  Just like the free agent market in baseball, the free agent market in business costs money and you don’t always get the player you want.  We'll talk more in a future post about “make versus buy” when it comes to talent.  Free agents make money from companies because the acquiring firm either had a misfortune or just didn’t invest in their talent.

Starting pitchers are those who initiate and start projects or business segments.  Not every staff member has what it takes to get things started and knowing who has the “right stuff” can make a big difference when getting a new game started.

Relief pitchers have different skill sets than starters and relief pitchers come in a variety of types.  Some come in to hold a lead or to stop the bleeding.  Other relief pitchers come in during high pressure situations to close out a game.  The really gifted relief pitcher comes in when the stakes are high and they “put out the fire”.  These “closers” are very valuable and can be costly to obtain and keep.

The Manager runs the day to day operation and this role has a strong parallel to the COO or president of a firm.  Every team needs a manager and every company needs someone who can handle the day to day issues.  Without them you don’t utilize your resources well.

The Coach is usually a former player who has the ability to teach and mentor others.  That description holds true in business and baseball.  Much more about this to come later in another post.

The Owner is similar to the board of directors or the equity ownership in a firm.  Owners hold the purse strings and decide where resources are allocated at a strategic level.  Good owners know how to make a team grow and perform.  Bad owners are sometimes always looking for ways to cut costs.  More on this to come also.

I have just scratched the surface in this introductory post and I hope you will stay with us for several innings or posts on this topics.

I suspect your team will play better if you do.

Let’s play ball.