Project Portfolio Management, IT Financial Management Blog

Take me out to the ballgame...

I awoke at the crack of dawn.  No roosters were crowing,  but I had pre-season jitters running through my veins. Today is Major League Baseball’s opening day.  I dug out my favorite team jersey (San Diego Padres for anyone that cares) and put it carefully on.  Yeah, I realize this isn’t the first day of the year for baseball.  They’ve been playing for months in the warmer areas of the country – while the rest of us have been in hibernation. I know many baseball fans follow Spring Training with great interest.  But opening day is the day that actually counts.  Or is it?


Although Spring Training technically doesn’t matter in terms of wins and losses, I think it is actually the MOST important time of the year for each and every baseball team.  It follows a time when teams have made investments often in new players or finished contract negotiations with existing players.  It’s a time when coaches continually make and revise game plans.  It’s a time when teams bring in less-experienced players and give them a chance to practice with older, more experienced players.  It’s a time to run new drills and test out various lineups.  It’s a time when the coaches look for different skill sets and utilize these specific skill sets to build various recipes for success.  It’s a time when teams either become or don’t become teams that will compete once the season begins. 


Imagine a world where Spring Training didn’t exist.  Coaches would probably spend the first month playing the same game plan they had last year – but this time with different skill sets and capabilities.  Half the season – when winning and losing matters - would be wasted trying to figure out who to play and how to play them.  Our favorite teams would look like the Bad News Bears until they found their rhythm and recipe for success.  The winners would be separated from the losers not so much in terms of talent, but in how quickly they were able to fit that talent into a set of strengths that overcomes their weaknesses.


I guess pretty much everything we do in life should have a similar cycle to Spring Training for baseball teams.  We prioritize, we plan, we practice, we run drills, we practice again….and then, hopefully, we execute to perfection.  Our approach to projects should be no different.  We should invest first in the people and preparation.  We need to plan out the projects, preparing ourselves for the issues will likely arise.  We need to ensure the project team has the right capabilities and can work well as a team.  In some cases, we have to allow the team to learn and fail together – during Spring Training.  Then we do what we’ve been preparing for –deliver successful projects.


Every project, just like every baseball team, is different.  But following the same approach of preparation, prioritizing, planning, practicing and then executing works for projects, just as it does in baseball.

JudyRedman | ‎03-31-2011 03:10 PM

Bruce,  I enjoyed your post.  As a big baseball fan (I grew up at the ball fields as my dad was a Little League coach), I enjoyed your analogy between PPM and baseball's spring training.  As with everything, practice makes perfect.


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About the Author
Bruce Randall has 18 years of experience in technology product management and product marketing, has authored numerous articles, whitepapers...

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