Sometimes you just can't help yourself.
I just spent 10 days following the most nail-biting, evenly matched, down to the third out in the bottom of the ninth of the last game World Series ever. And I'm a Giants fan - I'm used to torture.
In the last two series the Giants played, the strategy other than the bullpen was largely invisible to me. This time, especially with the even match, there was a whole lot of good stuff going on. Most of it was pretty obvious to me after watching the Giants all season; the announcers were pretty knowledgeable about the Royals' strategy so all the lessons were there for the taking.
It's amazing how they apply to my every day work!
- Situational management is key. You can't just start with a plan and expect to have it work out of the box. Every day there are small (or large) changes depending on who's there (OK, maybe they didn't blow their coding arm out but anyone can get sick), what the environment looks like, and who needs help.
- Know your team, know your team members. This speaks to my favorite topic of people-centered project management. Know who is in the zone today. Know who is fired up. Know who is rested and who isn't. Know each person's strengths and challenges. And know how the team operates as a whole. Then organize your strategy around the team, the people, and the situation.
- Learn from history. Combined with situational management, this was a very powerful tool for the Royals. I kept wondering how they were taking these solid hits away from the Giants, and then the announcers clued me in to how the coach was moving the players to different positions with every batter, taking into account how the batter hit, who was pitching, and general conditions. It was masterful.
- Everyone has a bad day now and then; everyone makes mistakes. If the team has a bad day (release, iteration, etc.), figure out why and get past it. Tomorrow could very well spell an incredible outing! And don't sweat the small stuff. Everyone makes mistakes - be sure they're not making the same ones over and over and then look at the whole performance. Brandon Crawford dropped some balls, but he made a lot of impossible plays over the series.
- Every team has a heart and a soul. Probably Hunter Pence and Buster Posey for the Giants. Of course they're superstars, but even on our teams the heart and soul of the team are worth their weight in prima donnas. They keep everyone going, make the team feel like a family, power through the tough time and encourage everyone.
- Stats aren't the whole story. If they were, the Giants would never have won Game 7 on the road. Metrics are good information, but they can't be the only basis for making decisions.
- Let the new guys play. We tend to give the new guys the simple stuff and keep them out of the way until they learn the ropes. But look what happens if you welcome them in, make them part of the team right away, and turn them loose. You could get a Joe Panik, calmly and steadily batting and making incredible plays.
- You can't build a team on a single hero (but it sure helps in a pinch!). Not a pinch hit (although that can be pretty important too), but there when you need them most. As unbelievable as MadBum is, no pitcher can win the game if the team can't field or bat. On the other hand, it's good to have a go-to get it done kind of person when you're down to the wire.
- Take the long view. Don't pitch your ace when he's not rested. Look at the big picture. Don't panic if there's a problem, figure it out and move on.
- Have fun. Even though these teams - and your teams! - are getting paid, they should be having a good time (at least most of the time). Who doesn't love watching Michael Morse's reaction to hitting a home run, or Hunter Pence speeding his way across home base? This is how we spend a big part of our lives, we should enjoy it.