View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



June 2006




Written by , Posted in General

Some years ago I went to work for a company that was based upon a philosophy called Total Quality Management (TQM.) The main precepts of this company were as follows: 1. Superior quality products; 2. A belief that customer satisfaction was *the* minimum criterion for success; 3. Employee empowerment and 4. A belief that customers should be given good value for their money.

The company didn’t have “managers” per se, they had “coaches.” When you asked them about that they told you that “managers manage, coaches lead.” Before I left I learned some good things from that company, particularly insofar as management is concerned. They were real big on motivating employees; later on I went to work for a monolithic computer manufacturer. What I learned from them was how to quantify and measure performance.

When I look at the Chicago Cubs I see a real “mom and pop” old-line company where politics count more than results. The decision-makers seem very preoccupied with playing CYA games and not too concerned with driving results. The Cubs front office needs a total revamp – the current oligarchy needs to be dumped and the new management should be held responsible for measurable goals. Were I the Tribune’s CEO I would hold the front office accountable on the basis of season ticket sales, paid attendance, actual attendance, concession sales, P&L and post-season attainments (they increase revenues and build brand loyalty.) The front office should also be held accountable insofar as hiring farm system personnel who can draft and develop future players, and a dugout manager and coaching staff that have certain skillsets and ability to drive specific measurable, obtainable results.

The guys in the dugout need to be able to motivate – to get guys to always try hard and give that “little something extra” when necessary to get to first place. I believe that a skilled motivator should meet with each player privately at least once a month to discuss performance. Team meetings should be held everyday before the game; they should be primarily inspirational in nature.

Dugout personnel should also be good teachers – part of their performance evaluation should be how they’ve improved their players. Guys like Larry Rothschild and Gene Clines should be measured on “deltas,” i.e. how their players have improved or diminished. If they can’t teach they don’t need to be on the payroll. Sorry guys, go to work for the Red Cross if you want to work for a charity.

Obviously none of that stuff is going on now, but if I were running the Cubs that’s how I would make it happen. The Cubs are not going to change until the fans vote with their dollars; this is a very reaction-oriented management and they do not respond until the radio stations get vapid and the fans stop showing up. VOTE WITH YOUR VOICES AND YOUR DOLLARS Cubs fans!

Update: Rotoworld reports that the Cubs are likely to skip Glendon Rusch’s next rehab start for Iowa in order to get him back up to Chicago as soon as possible. They speculate that Angel Pagan will be sent down; this move makes zero sense to me as the Cubs already have Dave Otto to throw lefthanded batting practice. We’ll see what happens…