- April 8, 2019
- Posted by: Philip Struble
- Category: Uncategorized
Baseball is considered by many to be the greatest American sport.
It is played on a field the shape of a diamond, which differentiates it from all the other rectangular shaped sport’s fields (soccer, football, tennis, etc.). Two teams play against each other, and there is no time clock, only a few disputes, and a lot of emotion. And if you are a true fan, there is a game to watch nearly every day of the season.
So, it no surprise of the number of analogies between business and baseball.
In business, we work in teams, and we make a pitch to promote our business. Estimates are expected to be in the ballpark, winning a big contract is a home run, and something that doesn’t go exactly as planned is a curveball. And when we are setting our future plans, we swing for the fences and set those goals high.
One of the hallmarks of baseball is the accumulations of statistics. Beginning in 1952, the back of nearly all baseball cards started including important statistics that attempt to tell the story of the player who adorns the front of the card. These statistics tell the players’ level of success such as hitting average, earned run average, and fielding percentage. The quantity of statistic kept for each player is voluminous; it includes everything short of how many times they spit per game.
In keeping with the analogy between business and baseball, many businesses attempt to emulate this part of baseball in their operation by also collecting exhaustive statistics. They follow the philosophy that to manage an activity, you need to measure that activity.
In business, some activities are relatively easy to measure such as the number of proposals written, number of calls returned, how much product shipped, and the number of deadlines met. For each of these activities are defined, measurable actions that, for the most part, are attributable to one person or a single small group, and just like stepping up to the plate in baseball, you either get on base or not.
Batting Average in Business
But most business activities are not so easily measured, and if they are measured, they are not attributable to one person.
Take getting a new client for example. Certainly, one person may deliver the proposal and get the appropriate signatures. But it is highly likely that what won the client was the reputation of the company and the historical work completed on similar projects that likely preceded the person delivering the proposal.
And, the proposal itself was a team effort that included estimators, media experts, lawyers, and wordsmiths. So, it would be unfair to give total credit to the well-dressed salesperson who simply delivered the final product.
In reality, many parts of business, such as getting a new client or developing a new business account, have no similarities to baseball.
Baseball is simply a matter of getting to bat and getting on base. This is clearly an individual success.
Most business activities, however, require the participation of a team, where no one person can claim all the credit. So, for most business activities there is no batting average. Business owners need to be careful in overly-applying statistics in an attempt to measure business performance.
One of the most useful analogies between baseball and business is the ability to deal with failure.
Only one team wins the World Series each year. Everybody else loses.
Only 0.5% of High School baseball players will have a chance to try out for Major League Baseball. The other 99.5% will have to be satisfied doing something other than playing professional baseball.
In business, we do not get all the business we chase, or all the talented employees we offer jobs to or make the level of profit we dream of. And just like baseball, we need to be satisfied with what our level of effort and expertise yields.
James 1:2-3 says.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Applying analogies such as baseball to our work life can be useful. In certain circumstances, comparisons can be motivating, inspirational, and useful. In other circumstances, these comparisons will be meaningless at best.
Fortunately, we as business leaders do not have to rely on comparing our business to popular sports. Both baseball and business can take heart in knowing we have a God that understand we will not be successful according to our dreams and desires. He has plans for us to be successful in other ways.