Having spent eight seasons working in minor league baseball and now five working for a technology company, I’ve appreciated both the similarities and the differences between the two. Sundog—to its credit—does a better job with teamwork and making its “fans” happy than most. But many technology companies are still guilty of the stereotypes—overpriced, vague about budgets and timelines, and sometimes acting like primadonnas.
What can technology companies learn from the seemingly low-tech, sometimes-unorganized world of minor league sports?
1. Deadlines Are Really Deadlines. Many technology companies treat deadlines like goals—it’s great if you meet them, but too often they’re treated as movable objects. 50+ games a season, and every baseball game has a start time. Every fan, player, coach, and hot dog vendor knows exactly when that is—miss your nightly deadline by three minutes and start the game at 7:08? Not only is your pitching coach mad at you, everybody who reads the boxscore the next day can see you started late. There’s no “we need one more day to finish this”…ever.
2. Teamwork Doesn’t Stop With The Players. When technology projects are running late or require added input, does your CEO pitch in to help? Does anybody on your exec team? If it rains during a game and the tarp has to get pulled, everybody from the cleanup crew to the mascot to the General Manager is there—and there’s no easy (or dry) side to the tarp. Nobody’s too important to get dirty. Nobody gets to go home early when there’s work that has to get done.
3. Client Interaction Is Everyday. You’re not up for your client meeting today? Try hosting 4,000+ “clients” nearly every day—all summer long. You scheduled a former major-leaguer to highlight your promotion that night, and now he can’t make it? You told everybody you were going to give away baseball bat pens and they’re still in China? If there’s any environment that can teach you how to think on the fly and quickly come up with remedies when things didn’t go as planned—it’s minor-league sports. You’re not allowed an off night. You’re not allowed to tell an over-zealous fan what you really think. At the same time, you have opportunities to go out of your way to make your fans happy every day.