Spring is on it’s way. Sure it doesn’t officially happen until March 20th (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway), but the flowers are blooming, the buds on the trees are popping and, in what I believe is just a corporate sponsored event to get us back into the office sooner, we moved our clocks ahead 1 hour yesterday.
The days are getting longer, Spring Training is in full swing for America’s Pastime and even down at the local diamonds you can hear the
crack of the ding of the aluminum bat and tons of parents cheering for their little Jack and Jill’s running the bases.
Baseball is a team sport that relies on individuals doing their best at with their role to make the team successful.
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if the don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
– Babe Ruth
If you’re lucky growing up and playing team sports your coach will not only educate you on the finer points of the game, the skills and fundamentals that will set the foundation for your future in the sport, but your coach will also set the foundation for how the team works together – teamwork.
Having been in the corporate world for the better part of my life, I often wonder:
How many corporate environments are composed of individuals who are part of “teams” yet have never actually played in a team sport?
From what I can tell there are an awful lot of people who have no concept of the team. Hey, I understand that everyone needs to start somewhere – they’re rookies. People aren’t born veterans, it’s something that is acquired over time. I get that. But, I believe we all expect that the vast majority of our coworkers aren’t rookies. We expect that the most will be veterans and have done it before.
Unfortunately, though most act very much like they have just been thrown out on the field by their overeager parents to play t-ball for the very first time. The only difference seems to be that my coworkers haven’t figured out that we don’t all get ice cream and a trophy at the end of the day.
Think about it for a minute, is your office really that much different from t-ball teams?
- Product Management is in right field looking at the kids on the field next to them trying to determine what the other team, their competition, is doing. “Coach, their team has 4 people here in the outfield. We only have 3. I think they are doing it right. We should do it like them.”
- Engineering has to have an oversized, overly complex glove that they typically wear over their face in an effort to examine all the intricate details of how the stitching holds the leather together. Meanwhile the game is progressing and the ball has flown past them.
- Accounting has realized how bad the team is hitting and suggests that after 4 swings and misses at the ball sitting on the T the player should lose his/her turn, because at this rate we will have exhausted all day light before the third batter is up forcing an end to the game.
- Strategy and Business Development is looking for ways to do things differently. They are constantly thinking what they’ll do if they get a hit. They can’t run to first like everyone else does. That’s not strategic. Should they run to third instead? Do I need to run at all – Isn’t every hit a home run?
- Marketing is busy trying to figure out some good sayings to get their team excited. “We want a pitcher not a belly itcher.” “2, 4, 6 8, who do we appreciate? Sales, Sales, yaaaaaay….Sales.”
- Sales is in Center Field, sees a fly ball (or was it a bird?) come toward their area. They start running toward it. “Must catch this one or I’ll be benched.” Meanwhile they crash into their Product Management coworker who is trying to tell them that they are wasting their time and it’s actually a football and not part of their game.
- HR wants all of their teammates to be happy and have fun so they’re concerned when Tommy isn’t playing nice with Billy. “Coach…you should really kick Billy or Tommy off the team because they’re being mean.”
- The whole company thinks they can come up with the winning idea and hit a home run. Meanwhile no one actually knows which hand the glove goes on, let alone catch the idea and make out so they can get back up to bat.
- The parents of the kids are the customer in T-Ball. And, as the customer they are constantly inquiring as to why their Johnny isn’t playing a full game at First Base, because that’s what they expected when they signed the agreement to play and paid their fees.
- All the while, the CEO and coach is shouting encouragements, guidance and trying to teach the kids the fundamentals, yet keeps thinking, “Dear lord, it sounded like a lot of fun when the Little League Board asked me to take this job. But, I didn’t realize this would be a group of jokers like the Bad News Bears and the parents (customers) would constantly complain.”
Yep, my company really isn’t all that different from shenanigans going on down the street at our local T-ball field.