Interestingly, I see lessons in that success for us in how we can use accountability to improve public education. Here are some thoughts.
First, it begins with the idea in baseball as well as most things that are important in life that winning matters. We value success, whether it is winning the championship or earning higher profits or educating youngsters successfully to high standards.
Second, we measure what we treasure. We win or lose. We boost or languish in earnings. We have higher or lower cure rates. We get more or less bang for the buck in our charitable giving. Likewise, we have youngsters in school who are provably more or less proficient in their academics. In all cases, we know how we stack up because we establish objective measures of how well we succeed or fail at what we do.
Third, we face consequences for how we do what we do. This rounds out the true meaning and purpose of accountability. What do we do differently after we measure?
In education, do we improve teaching and learning? Do we make our plans more detailed and effective to lead to better results? In business, do we improve service? Do we make the process more efficient? Do we improve worker skills?
What I find most interesting about the Diamond article on the Astros’ is what it teaches us about accountability in baseball.
First, as the General Manager makes clear in the article and the players said in their post-Series interviews, success is the bottom line. The team had a relentless focus on results, on winning. And that meant getting to the Series through wins and winning four out of seven games once there.
Second, success involves data and analytics. Both team management and players bought into the importance of both gathering and using data in decisions about personnel, policies, and practices.
We have seen this drive toward more and better analytics in baseball ever since the days of Billy Beane with the Oakland A’s. We saw the importance of analytics in the Cubs’ championship last year. And, according to Diamond and others, the Astros have recently been the best in the game at analytics.
But while success in most things requires analytics; it requires more. To start, yes, it entails a commitment by all in the organization to wins and winning. Then, it involves a commitment to data and analytics. But, here’s the key thing the Astros found: it’s also chemistry and culture. The Astros paid attention to both the numbers and the names, to the measures and the humans.
Management opened up to sharing data with players. In decision after decision, as pitcher Dallas Keuchel says, “each player became a person.” Veterans were brought on board not only to play, but also to help guide the newcomers. The manager made decisions on whether to keep a pitcher on the mound based on visible signs of success, as well as numbers.
A phenomenal esprit de corps developed, which was visible to all who watched. And, thus, the team - with the data and the culture - won the championship.
We have many winning schools, and there are great lessons to be learned from them. But, as to the proper use of accountability, our new world champions teach us much as well.