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Reworking the Athletics: An Introductory and a Call to Arms

We’ve all opined about the state of our A’s and their deficiencies in area after area, be it marketing or medical, or even what they are supposed to do best, putting the right players on the field. But reading a photo blog on the war in Afghanistan, and some quotes from soldiers on the ground, got me thinking about something. A soldier, when asked what he felt about the thoughts of those back home, and the people who come up to him and said that they ‘support the troops’,  opined;

"I’ve had people come up to me and say ‘I support the troops, I want you out of there.’ Really? What have you done to support the troops? What have you done other than complain?” [Source]

In other words, do something. And he has a point, quite often, about any subject, be it politics, war or even, yes, their favorite sports team, love to complain about the problem without doing anything to solve it.

Now obviously, I cannot just pick up a bat and save the day for the A’s. I can’t hit, I can’t pitch, and while I can field and run the bases, there are about a million others who can do just that, and much better than me. So I said to myself ‘what can I do?’

I looked back at my college career, past and present, and thought in my mind if there was anything I could apply to this quasi-real life situation of doing something instead of just being a complainer. And there it was. There was one thing that kept coming up in quite a few of my classes. It came up in my Business Case Development class. It came up in Project Management. It came up here, it came up there. Something that businesses that are down in the dumps, or see a bleak or bland future, or just want to bring themselves to the top of the game do; a Business Process Re-engineering.

What is Business Process Re-engineering? Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) is akin to tearing the whole organization apart and building a new one in its place based on the best practices or theories that we can find. The other option, Business Process Improvement (BPI) would be akin to firing the whole coaching staff and replacing them with someone else and hoping that gives you a 10% gain in performance.

As Wikipedia explains it;

“Business process reengineering is one approach for redesigning the way work is done to better support the organization's mission and reduce costs. Reengineering starts with a high-level assessment of the organization's mission, strategic goals, and customer needs. Basic questions are asked, such as "Does our mission need to be redefined? Are our strategic goals aligned with our mission? Who are our customers?" An organization may find that it is operating on questionable assumptions, particularly in terms of the wants and needs of its customers. Only after the organization rethinks what it should be doing, does it go on to decide how best to do it.” [Source]

Are the A’s really operating under the right processes right now? Are they operating on the right assumptions on what their true goal is? What IS the true goal of the Oakland Athletic, indeed?

The A’s are supposed to be innovated, and at the top at everything they can be that does not require $200 million dollar payrolls. But they are not. Indeed, they seem to have been slipping farther and farther behind ever since Moneyball came out and the baseball world was able to dissect our processes and readapt our philosophies better than we could ourselves. It is time to reinvent ourselves instead of patching our wounds with sawdust and duct tape. It’s time for a plan.

But I cannot do this alone. And I thought; who better than AN, the brain trust of the A’s, to help me. To become a team of our own and show what is needed and what the A’s can be.

I ask for volunteers for this mission, if you choose to accept it. What can you bring to the table? What advice can you give one way or another? What are the different functions of a Baseball Organization? What departments are there? At all levels of the organization? What do the A’s currently do the best? What do they do the worst? Any bits of information helps no matter if it is about observations on the behavior of the A’s, to how the A’s processes work right now inside the organization, it all helps.

So who is with me on this ambitious project? It may be tough, but it’s time to stop complaining, and to start doing.

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