Take Me Out To the Ballpark
Twenty-five baseball players tried out for a high school baseball team, yet due to league rules, only 18 could be eligible for the official team roster. Since baseball has 9 positions, each position would have 2 players; a primary and a backup. Once the 18 players were chosen, and since the manager had never posted a winning season, he decided to approach practice and coaching differently this year. He told each of the 2 players at each position to focus only on the position they were assigned and not to worry about the other positions. The manager felt that if the players watched, observed and/or practiced at the other positions, it would ultimately take away from that player's understanding and knowledge of the intricacies of that position. To even further allow the individual players to focus on their positions, the coach would only let the primary and backup position players of a particular position practice with each other. He would not let all the players practice together since many times, there were disruptions and distractions when all the players practiced as a team.
In the first 2 games of the year, the team won since they were utilizing their experiences of previous years teams; however, in the third game of the year, the coach decided to run a pick off play at first base. When the play was called, the 1st basemen, the pitcher and the catcher were all supposed to initiate the play on a particular signal; however, since the team had not run the plays as a team during practice, none of the players knew which signal began the play. To even further highlight the mishaps of the team, both 2nd basemen broke their arms during the game and were indisposed for the duration of the season. The coach was forced to put the backup 3rd baseman in the 2nd baseman's position. One the final play of the game, a ball was hit to the 2nd baseman, and he didn't know where to throw the ball since he had never played that position in practice.
After the game, a reporter asked the coach his thoughts on the reasoning for his team losing the game. He said that the team didn't function as a complete unit, but as individuals trying to win the game for themselves. He also mentioned that he should have allowed all the players to practice each of the positions throughout the course of the season to protect against a primary and backup player for a particular position getting hurt.
Moral: When building a team, ensure that each person has a perspective on the end goal and big picture of the team, ultimately understanding how all the individual players work together as a complete unit. Also, make each person as cross-functional as possible just in case one of those individuals has to or is forced to leave the team.
These stories are adapted examples written in my class, IS 6840 (formerly MSIS 488).
© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.