March 24, 2010

Baseball according to Drucker (2)

My translation of chapter 1 from 「もし高校野球の女子マネージャーがドラッカーの『マネジメント』を読んだら」 ("What if the Girl Manager of a High School Baseball Team read Drucker's Management?"). This isn't the whole chapter, only what's available in the Amazon preview (the prologue here).

The school year in Japan begins and ends in April (the same as the fiscal year). Except for a small number of private "American-style" high schools, public and private high schools require entrance exams and are ranked accordingly. I believe the rank of 60 cited below refers to the school's T score (偏差値).

What if the Girl Manager of a High School Baseball Team read Drucker's Management?

Chapter 1: Minami and Management Cross Paths

        Minami attended a public high school in Tokyo. Hodokubo High--"Hodoko" for short--was located in the hilly Tama district at the western reaches of the Kanto Plain. The school building was perched atop one such hill with a commanding view of the surrounding countryside.
        The Okutama Mountains were visible from her homeroom window. On a clear day she could see all the way to Mt. Fuji.
        The forests had been mostly cleared starting in the 1960s to make room for the Tama New Town bedroom community. Nevertheless, a few stands of trees had been left intact. Despite belonging to the Tokyo megalopolis, signs of nature were surprisingly abundant.
        Hodoko was a college prep school. It had a ranking of sixty, which placed it in the top fifteen percent. Almost everybody passed their university entrance exams. It was a good enough school that several graduates could be expected to enter Japan's Ivy Leagues every year.
        The differences between academic and athletic performance, though, were stark. Campus extracurricular activities enjoyed wide and enthusiastic participation, but none of the sports teams produced the kind of talent that could make it to a national championship.
        The baseball team was no exception. It wasn't embarrassingly weak, and neither was it particularly strong. It simply didn't compete at a level worthy of Koushien. Only once, twenty years before, had Hodoko made it as far as the fifth round, to the Sweet Sixteen.
        Most years, they were eliminated before reaching the third round. Nobody was harboring any high hopes this year either.
        Minami knew all this. But even she was surprised when she walked into the clubhouse. "Humble" was the kindest way of describing the environment she found there. Forget Koushien--they wouldn't make it past the first round in this shape.

        Shortly before Minami became manager, Hodoko lost in the summer municipal preliminaries and the seniors, right on schedule, quit the team to concentrate on their college entrance exams. Such a state of affairs was not unexpected. Still hardly anybody showed up for team practice.
        Not because the team was taking an official break. Practices were scheduled. But without even bothering to concoct a good excuse and without any prior notification, most players just skipped the workouts.
        That was the mood of the baseball team these days: Show up. Don't show up. Whatever. Nobody said they were free to do "whatever." Nobody said they weren't. Nobody was holding their feet to the fire either way.
        Only five players came to practice the first day Minami did. The team had twenty-three members. That meant almost three-quarters were absent. Attendance didn't improve much the next week. And summer vacation would soon be upon them.
        That got Minami's dander up. Carrying the status quo into the summer break was simply unacceptable. She needed to get a few things off her chest, seek agreement with her ideas, and hopefully garner some cooperation going forward.
        So together with the coach, she gathered together the handful of team members and began her speech.

        "I am going to take this team to Koushien."
        That statement prompted a variety of responses. For every kid actually listening to her, her words were going in one ear and out the other of another. The majority joked and chattered aimlessly. But the one reaction they all had in common was overwhelmingly negative.
        "That's out of the question," said the coach, Makoto Kachi.
        He paused and continued, "In the ninety years since the Koushien tournament began, only one municipal high school in West Tokyo made it to Koushien. Needless to say, it was Kunitachi Metropolitan. West Tokyo is crowded with private school powerhouses like Obirin Prep, Nichidai Daisan, and Waseda Vocational, plus at least three others that have been in the Koushien championships. Getting into Koushien means beating those schools and more like them. A goal like that is completely disconnected from reality."
        Jun Hoshide, the team captain, said, "Talk about setting the bar too high. We're not on the baseball team because we want to go to Koushien. We're here for the workouts, for the comradery, and for the memories, I guess. Some of us started out when we were kids and never shook the habit. Or were looking for a productive way to spend our afternoons. Talking up Koushien around here won't get anybody jumping on your bandwagon."
        The catcher, Jirou Kashiwagi, added, "Yeah, not exactly a cakewalk, you know? I get where you're coming from. But go sailing off half-cocked with super high-minded goals and it's going to hurt a lot worse when you come crashing back to earth. How about something a bit more realistic, like making it past the third round?"
        Then in a more subdued voice he asked, "I mean, are you serious? Do you really want to manage this team?"

UPDATE: ranked number 3 on Japan's bestseller list.

Related posts

Baseball according to Drucker (1)
Baseball according to Drucker (3)
Baseball according to Drucker (4)
Baseball according to Drucker (5)
Baseball according to Drucker (6)

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# posted by Anonymous Tudor
7/06/2010 5:20 AM   
Thanks for this. The Economist (July 3rd, p67) has a piece on Drucker in the dug-out.

I'm writing a post based on your blog for

Best wishes

# posted by Blogger Eugene
7/08/2010 4:00 PM   
Thanks. Noted here.