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What Baseball Has Taught Me About Business… Perspective

Baseball has taught me not to get too high with the highs or too low with the lows.

I recently read an article by Dr. Zac Rogers in CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly titled “Riding the bullwhip”.  The article discusses US inventories hitting record highs in 2022.

In 2020 companies ended up with too much inventory.  The easy answer was COVID, but were other forces at play?  Many over reacted and at the end of 2021 most companies didn’t have enough inventory to satisfy demand.  Again, the easy answer was COVID, this time emerging from it, but were other forces at play?  Now as we passed through 2022 companies are once again sitting on too much inventory.  What is going on?  COVID, or are other forces involved.  After all, life is rarely simple.

As I was reading the article it reminded me of former Philadelphia Phillies baseball manager Charlie Manuel.  It is my understanding that he told his players, “don’t get too high with the highs, or too low with the lows.”  Charlie may not have been the most eloquent, but when he spoke people listened.  My interpretation of this message is that players will experience great games, terrible games, and a lot of average games in between.  If you can be consistent with reactions in all situations, keep the bigger picture in mind, and keep working hard at what made you successful you will give yourself a better chance at success.

Let’s go back and relive history for a moment.  Imagine you are one of the many inventory managers at the end of 2020 sitting on piles of product.  How do you plan for 2021?  Many overreacted by cutting way back.

Fast forward to the end of 2021 and now you are out of stock on almost everything because you cut back way too far.  How do you plan for 2022?  Many, once again, over built inventories ending with overstock positions.

Now, maybe most importantly, you’re sitting at the beginning of 2023.  How do you plan for the upcoming year?  Well if recent history repeats itself, most inventory managers will look at their overstock position.  They will read about the pending recession in 2023, bad news from Europe, the Ukraine War and its effect on global economy, etc., etc. in their Internet news feeds.  And likely, many will cut way back on orders and planned inventory levels.  Will they end 2023 with inventory shortages?

No one really knows what Charlie Manuel will say, but what might he say if you asked him what to do?    He might say, “don’t get too high with the highs, or too low with the lows.”  Keep everything in perspective.  Don’t accept the easy answer (“recession”?), rather look deeper.  Stick with approaches that served you well in the past.  Then make your best decision and keep working hard.
—Matt Kulp, St. Onge Company

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