What can IT Services learn from a baseball player?

I was driving in my Jeep this morning listening to local sports talk radio and heard an interview with the Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings.  There were a few really interesting takeaways from this interview, but one was specifically pertinent for you IT managed service providers and the vCIO (virtual chief information officer) role.

First of all, Stallings is considered a journeyman in major league baseball.  In sports, a journeyman (or woman) is an athlete who is technically competent but unable to excel.  Stallings has been hanging around for years, mostly in spring training and the minors, but periodically promoted to the majors when one of the main catchers was injured.  One of the things about him was he was always very solid and serviceable, but never great (why he is a journeyman).  What was especially interesting about the interview is he is now the Pirates’ starting catcher.  During the interview you could tell he is humble and grateful for his opportunity.  You also noticed that for what he gives up in raw talent, he makes up for with grit, determination, and an unrelenting work ethic.  All this is a feel good story about a determined, hardworking guy getting his shot.

The thing that really jumped out to me was his answer to the interviewer’s question about preparation.  Stallings has caught for hundreds of pitchers, and yet he seems to know all their tendencies, styles, and personality quirks – all of them.  Then he said something so obvious that it almost slipped by.

He keeps a notebook on each pitcher he has ever caught for.

He interviews them before their first session and takes notes after each subsequent time he catches for them.

He is always reviewing his notes prior to practices and games, and is always ready to go – WHETHER HE IS STARTING OR NOT.

So here was my ah-ha: vCIO’s are technical account managers and are responsible for maintaining the technical business relationships with 30-50 customers.  I work with many vCIO’s and realize that sadly few keep this kind of information documented about their individual customers and instead typically keep it in their head.

Playing above your natural abilities requires grit, determination, and an unrelenting work ethic – it also requires that you play smart.  Here is a simple example of how to have better interactions with your customers.  Will you  give it a try??


What I am reading:
Professional:  Digital Transformation – by Thomas M. Siebel – Amazon Link
Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction

Personal: Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger – Amazon Link
Cork O’Connor Mystery Series