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News flash: Baseball not true team sport
2007-06-12 17:12
by Bob Timmermann

So says Dr. R. Keith Sawyer at the Huffington Post.

Sawyer is a professor of psychology and education at Washington University and thinks that you can't use baseball's style of play and apply it to business.

But there is some nice unintetnional humor:

A baseball team doesn't look like an improvising group, and frankly, doesn't look much like a business team either. The reason is that in baseball, each team member's contributions are relatively independent. As Pete Rose once said, "Baseball is a team game, but nine men who reach their individual goals make a nice team." It's rare that more than one player is involved in a play. More than just about any other team sport, the overall performance of the team is additive.

First of all, I find it hard to believe Pete Rose would ever construct a sentence that complex. And most baseball games I watch have a series of plays which involve a pitcher, who throws to a catcher, trying to get it past a batter, and if the ball is put into play, usually two people are involved in trying to record an out.

Instead, basketball is the right metaphor for today's innovative businesses. (Although if you're outside of the United States, you can think of soccer, which is just as improvisational.) Basketball is one of the most improvised and team-oriented of all sports; the five members of a basketball team interact in an interdependent way that's a lot like jazz. You see this especially in pick-up games, because everything that slows down the professional game has been taken away -- there are no free throws in streetball, for example.

Basketball is like jazz, but only if jazz had officials who stopped the players from playing every couple of minutes because one guy played a note too long.

2007-06-12 17:27:44
1.   Ken Arneson
"...although baseball might be a team sport, It's the wrong metaphor for business innovation."

Uh, oh, look out! Mr. Sawyer and Mr. Jeff Angus catfight at 12 o'clock!

2007-06-12 17:36:05
2.   grandcosmo
You'll find a lot of unintentional humor on that website.
2007-06-12 17:52:13
3.   Sam DC
Basketball -- the ultimate team game. And the one in which it's widely agreed that a single dominant player can completely change the fortunes of a team.

Hmmmm . . . . maybe basketball is the perfect model for rock star CEOs who want to justify earning 9,000 times what their average employee earns.

2007-06-12 19:07:32
4.   El Lay Dave
The Rose quote is extracted from a longer quote in a 1982 Time Magazine article.

2007-06-12 19:09:22
5.   StolenMonkey86
Miles Davis yelled at John Coltrane once for a solo that went too long. The conversation went like this:
Coltrane: "I'm sorry, man, but when I get going, I just don't know how to stop."
Miles: "Try taking the [expletive] out of your mouth!"
2007-06-12 19:11:23
6.   StolenMonkey86
To find out which expletive, or to see some further context, go to the paragraph that starts "By 1957"

2007-06-12 21:24:27
7.   grandcosmo
6 Miles was a bad expletive.

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