Management Lessons from the World Series

The phrase “gut-wrenching” was much in use in New York City this past week following the tough loss by the New York Mets to the Kansas City Royals last Sunday in the fifth and final game of baseball’s World Series.

In the end, it was a failure to pay attention to fundamentals that did the Mets in, suggests Dana Deasy, chief information officer at JPMorgan Chase & Co. Knowledge@Wharton caught up with him at a recent Knowledge@Wharton-Momentum conference in New York, “Fast Forward: Executive Strategies for Personal Digital Transformation,” where he was a featured speaker. He outlined three specific mistakes in fundamentals by the Mets in this Knowledge@Wharton interview, starting with noting that the Royals runner that tied the score in the ninth inning of the final game probably should never have gotten on base to begin with.

An edited transcript appears below.

As I woke up this morning and I was truly devastated about the Mets losing the World Series. But I could not help but reflect that, this is like Management 101. There were three things I saw occur in that series that were good reminders to all of us as leaders.

First of all, take the very last game. At the end of the day we should always listen to our employees. But as leaders, we need to take the final decision. Twitter  I’m not sure that is what the manager did in that last game. [Editor’s note: Mets manager Terry Collins decided to replace pitcher Matt Harvey, after Harvey had pitched eight innings with no runs scored by the opposing Kansas City Royals. Collins thought a fresh reliever offered the best chance of winning. But Collins reportedly allowed Harvey to talk him into keeping him in the game, and the Royals tied the game in the ninth inning and eventually won the game in extra innings.]

Second, I think about the runner [Yoenis Cespedes in Game 4] that was out at first when that line drive was caught. We talk in business all the time about making sure we really understand the fundamentals of what we do, day-in and day-out, and practicing it, and making sure everybody understands their role. And clearly, somebody forgot the fundamentals there. [In baseball, runners can advance when a fly ball is hit into the air only if they “tag up” — touch the base they are at — after the fly ball is caught. But when the batting team has two outs, on-base runners don’t bother to tag up because, if the ball is caught, the inning is over anyway. Cespedes acted as if there were two outs, but there was only one out. He was caught off base, making the third and final out.]

And finally, if you go back to Game 1, when that homerun was hit [in the ninth inning], it’s a really good reminder. Just when you think you are getting comfortable, and everything is going down the path – you expect the outcome to be a certain way – how fast and sudden things can change, and how you have to be prepared for the sudden changes. [the Mets’ excellent relief pitcher, Jeurys Familia, who had performed so strongly during the regular season, had an uncharacteristic lapse and gave up a ninth-inning home run to tie the game, and the Mets eventually lost 5-4.]

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