A few weeks ago, Jeff Angus, the author of the phenomenal Management by Baseball blog, contacted me and asked me to read his new book, also titled Management by Baseball. In the book, Jeff breaks down management into four discrete “bases” (get it?) that one must reach in order to become a Hall of Fame manager. The four bases (from the book’s website):
Managing the Mechanics Every day of the baseball season, skippers skillfully juggle complex decisions from choosing a lineup to calling for a steal. In the dugout, they handle abstract concepts like time management and training techniques. In the office, they pore over research reports and apply them to the problems at hand. Learn from the masters the methods of successful operational management (and lessons in what to avoid from baseball's biggest bunglers).
Managing Talent Great baseball managers know how to get the most out of a team over a long season by understanding how to evaluate and motivate players, and when and how to hire and fire them. Learn how to apply their models and get the most out of your team.
Managing Yourself The most successful managers in and out of baseball learn enough about their own habits, biases, and strengths to overcome preconceived notions. Boost your own skills through examples of how baseball's best and worst came to grips with intellectual and emotional blind spots that undermined their effectiveness.
Managing Change--and Driving It The best baseball managers know how to adapt to significant changes in the game. So should anyone who works outside a ballpark. Lessons from baseball will improve your ability to thrive in times of change and actively drive changes to your company's advantage — and your own.
There is a lot to like about the book, and I’ll share some of the insights I gleaned from it in a few posts later this week. For now, the Box Score:
Great baseball anecdotes told in a way even non-baseball nuts will understand and appreciate.
Insightful management tips and tricks I’d not seen before.
Good set of baseball-like “Rules” throughout the book.
In depth economic analysis of business decisions told in a way that makes difficult concepts easily understandable. Jeff’s explanation of “The Book” in baseball, stochastic decision making, and the Law of Problem Evolution in Chapter Four was really, really great.
Jeff’s introduction (to me, at least) of the diseconomies of scale, has changed my thinking on the advantages of large organizations.
Not enough baseball. Jeff is a top-flight consultant, but too often he digresses from baseball to share a lesson he learned in consulting. If he is going to rely upon the baseball metaphor, he should do it completely.
The format of the book makes for difficult reading. There are too many sidebars that break up the flow of the narrative.
Jeff’s “Rules” should be collected at the end of the book, either as an appendix or as a separate, pull-out supplement.
Admittedly, I am a big baseball fan and expected to like the book, which I did. I do think, however, that even a casual observer of the game will find valuable lessons. One caveat, the book is not an easy read. It isn’t that it is difficult to understand, or that the words are too big, it just didn’t “flow” like I’d hoped. Several times, I set aside an hour or two to focus on reading it, but would stop after a chapter or two. I started to get more from the book when I would limit myself to reading a chapter at a time. It may have been just me, but I needed time to process the information in small chunks. I think this is because Jeff packs so much complex business and economic analysis into a such a small book.
With that caveat, I heartily recommend Management by Baseball. Jeff has found a unique way of looking at (and explaining) business behavior that worked for me. If you like baseball at all, it will work for you too.