Are You Thinking Beyond the Immediate Win?

If the June 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated ever landed on your desk, chances are good you either laughed or said “yea, right” when you read the cover story about the Houston Astros: “An Unprecedented Look at How a Franchise is Going Beyond Moneyball to Build the Game’s Next Big Thing…Your 2017 World Series Champs.” The Astros’ performance drought had been well advertised.  I’m not a baseball guy, and even I knew they were bad.

How could this team make the World Series, let alone win it?

The answer lay with the approach. When Jeff Luhnow came on board as the Houston Astros’ general manager in 2011, he knew fans expected a quick turning of the ship. A record close to .500 seemed attainable, and would allow them to watch a fair amount of wins. But, Luhnow and analyst Sig Mejdal decided to focus on the long-term win instead of a more immediate and respectable record. They avoided expensive free agents, put more resources into their farm system, traded away some of their most mature assets, and developed a controversial analytics-based approach to drafting players.

The initial cost for the duo’s approach was high. The Astros lost game after game, some of which received local TV ratings of 0.0. By 2013, their record of 51-111 was the worst in franchise history and tied for the majors’ worst in a decade. But in 2017, their strategy paid off. The Houston Astros won the World Series.

Thinking beyond the immediate win isn’t easy, not in baseball or in the glass industry. To get the job done, we are often focused on landing the next project or getting the next shipment out on time. There are always pressing matters competing for our attention. Looking beyond these urgent needs to reevaluate internal processes, reconfigure programs, shift employee roles and make other beneficial changes takes time and resources. Since the initial investment is high and we are already busy, we don’t take action. But, like the Astros, the pay-off for strategic, long-term adjustments can far outweigh the initial cost.

A recent example at TGP took place during the build out of some of our machining programs. To effectively build out the new program, we had to shift engineering resources normally used for shop drawings and reallocate them to machining for a one-month period.

It was a major effort to manage these resources. Did we experience short-term discomfort during this period? Yes. But, the net-gain is expected to be huge. To put it into perspective, it would have taken two engineers and one programmer over a year and a half at one day per week to complete the same amount of work that our team was able to test, verify and program during that one-month timeframe. It also left our team in a great situation for those specific machining programs going forward. Perhaps more importantly, it reminded me of the value of thinking beyond the here and now, of experiencing a little discomfort for a bigger gain.

So, my question for you is this: are you thinking beyond the immediate win?  

David Vermeulen is the national sales manager for Technical Glass Products (TGP), a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. TGP works closely with architects, designers and other building professionals, providing them with the state-of-the-art products, service and support to maximize design aesthetics and safety in commercial and institutional buildings around the world. Contact him at 800/426-0279.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

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