June 11, 2006

Business Lessons from Tee-Ball

The last thing I expected when I attended my niece's Tee-Ball game, was to think how much the event was like attending a business meeting. Don't get me wrong it was a lot of fun to watch the antics of the seven year olds.

But what triggered this article was how, despite the best intentions of the novice baseball players, they quickly lost interest in the game. I believe in the higher goals of Tee Ball. Primary is to introduce kids to the game and make sure they have fun. In this case my niece's little league removed much of the fun. Basically each kid gets two turns at bat and then two turns in the field. But there's no running, no catching...just a bunch of stand here, "move there" maneuvers. I guess a kid could get hurt.

The result was a lot of kids socializing, talking, hunting for caterpillars...doing everything but baseball. Occasionally someone would hit the ball and there would be a mad scramble for it.

The next time you're in a meeting look around. Are people doing anything but dealing with what matters most? Are the organizations rules making making it un-fun? Is your team just going through the motions?

Business (and baseball) can be a meaningful vehicle for personal and professional growth. I pity the organizations that miss the opportunity to enable this. Oh and by the way, I just know that my niece will have more baseball in her future. Why ? You should see how she hits and throws the ball.

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  1. I don't know if great minds think alike, or if it is just minds with similar limitations that see things the same skewed way, at any rate, I was struck with your post and how closely it paralleled my thoughts. As a little league basketball coach for fifteen years, I came to define my objective as (1) to impart as many of the fundamentals of the game as the kids were prepared to absorb, and (2) make sure they enjoyed the experience enough to come back next season.

    None of them were ging to be superstars while I had them, of course, but if they learned a little and kept coming back, who knows? Some may turn out out be great ballplayers some day.

    And I eventually came to think of my job as a manager in similar terms. If I could mentor and teach the people working for me as much as I could within the limitations of their education, experience and position in the company, and made sure their job was enjoyable enough for them want to keep getting up in the morning and come back for more, then I figured I would be a pretty good boss.

    "Fun" may be the wrong word - there is often great satisfaction without necessarily doing a whole lot of grinning. But I think a good boss can create an environment in which his staff crawls home dead tired at the end of the day, but happy with themselves and their career choices, and feeling it was well worth it.

    I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Keep up the great communications!