LUBBOCK, Texas – If you are not thinking about your human capital – aka your employees — in strategic terms, you won’t be winning a world series any time soon.
For you heretics who are unfamiliar with the phrase America’s pastime, let me introduce you to Brian Sabean, the general manager of the exciting San Francisco Giants baseball team. In his 18 years in that job he has successfully managed the baseball operations while building good – nay, excellent teams who have been in contention for the National League title numerous times and whose teams have won World Series Championships three times in the last five years.
There are cities, other teams and their fans across America that would sacrifice their first born for those kinds of results.
Clearly, Mr. Sabean knows how to build a baseball team. OK, he is good at evaluating talent, but so are most of his competing GMs. What separates Sabean from his peers, writes Baseball MLB.com columnist Richard Justice of Houston, is that he understands that (team) building is not just talent but depth, leadership and chemistry.
In baseball, as in business, particularly when you are running a business as complex and challenging as a hospital, things change. What makes Sabean unique is that Sabean is always willing to look at the big picture, from the major league roster down to the lowliest of his minor league affiliates. He works hard – very hard – to think a step ahead of what his current or future free agents might do. He is looking for deals that will improve his team for the next year. This is where most hospital leaders tune out. We don’t have minor leagues. Your example is bogus. Oh contraire, Mr. CEO, there is something called the talent pipeline and if you are not aware of it, or if you are not investing in strategies to identify and develop future leaders, you are on course for second tier performance. That could be career limiting, not because your board will take action, but because your competitors will.
In healthcare, there are a lot of CEOs who recognize talent. Quite often, they have solid bench strength in their organizations but they squander this advantage because they fail to think strategically about talent. Hospital leaders cannot afford that because the strength of your people will mean the difference between success or failure. Your success or your failure.
In baseball, the GM has a boatload of other responsibilities, not just managing his priced talent. There are the other little distractions like player development, scouting, ticket sales, stadium operations, minor league affiliate relations and merchandising sales, to name a few. But his most visible and important responsibility is managing the process of identifying not players but the right blend of talents, skills and attitudes that will allow his manager in the dugout win the most games possible.
Depth of skills, knowledge and chemistry are critical to success and that is a fact that baseball GMs understand, at least the good ones do.