How Running an IT Shop is Like Running a Baseball Team

While I know a lot more about running an IT shop than running a baseball team, when I stop to think about it I realize that the two really do have a lot in common. Here are some of the important things you need to do in either situation.

Pay attention to the roster – First and foremost, whether you’re running an IT shop or a baseball team, you want to field the best team possible. As a manager, you need to know all of your players. Who are your super stars? Your utility players? Your role players? Is each person in a position that will make both them and the team successful?

When I ran IT shops I always took the time to take a close look at my team roster and understand where each team member was in their careers. Some were at the end of their careers and would be retiring from the team at some point. In these cases, I needed to make sure I had someone ready to step up and take their spot. Others were in the middle of their careers, and needed a plan to manage their career through midstream. Then there were the rookies. I had to keep an eye on my “farm club” – the new college hires or people just starting their career. It was important to help these team members develop the skills they needed so that eventually they could join the starting lineup.

Work towards a goal – Once you have your team in place you need a big, overriding goal to define the team’s efforts. For baseball teams this goal is make it to the World Series and win the National Championship. For IT shops the goal is to help the business meet its objectives in terms of profitability, growth, and so forth.

Keep your eye on the competition – It’s not enough to keep an eye on your own team. You also need to spend some time watching your competition. You need to know the opposing team’s players, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they compete. When I ran IT shops I often looked at our company’s competitors’ IT shops to see how our team stacked up and to think about how our IT team could help our company win.

Get some points on the board – If morale is low and your team has been beaten down, one of the best ways to turn things around is to get some points on the board. To make this happen, you need to get some tasks or projects completed quickly so that your team members can gain a sense of accomplishment. Pick some small, easily-accomplished items so that everyone gains the feeling that they can get some hits and runs and points. Baseball teams react to the crowd’s cheers. IT teams react to kudos and accolades. As the momentum starts to build, your players will see that they’re pulling together as a team to succeed and win – just like a baseball team that’s enjoying success.

Mike Faster, President 

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