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Editorial: How ’bout those Jays?

How ‘bout those Jays? A cautionary tale of boardroom blunders.


What a team, and what a run to the playoffs this year. As a guy who was actually present in the stands when Joe Carter hit his World Series-winning home run in 1993, I have sure enjoyed seeing the team return to success, especially behind such a group of likeable and enormously talented players.

And I’m obviously not alone. I spent a lot more time talking baseball than glass at the various golf tournaments and industry meetings this summer and fall. I think anyone with the slightest interest in baseball in this country will remember for a very long time where they were when Jose flipped his bat in Game Five.

Sadly, the afterglow from that magical season was cut off rather abruptly with the departure of its architect – the brilliant general manager, Alex Anthopoulos – on the very day it was announced he’d be honoured as Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year. Anthopoulos is too classy to say anything about his decision to leave except that it was 100 per cent his decision and that he didn’t feel there was a “good fit,” under incoming president, Mark Shapiro, but anyone who has watched sports for any length of time knows there is a powerful tendency for new top executives to clean house and populate the organization with “their guys.” Reading between the lines a little, it sure looks like Shapiro was determined to have the last say on baseball operations and Anthopoulos saw a future where his role would be diminished.

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Trust me, I’m getting to the point where any of this has anything to do with the glazing industry.

There apparently wasn’t enough room in Blue Jays’ front office for the egos of both men, with the result that the team loses one of the best minds in the game. Maybe Shapiro is a fantastic baseball guy that will make us forget about Anthopoulos very quickly, though the results in Cleveland (where Shapiro was general manager for many years) don’t suggest it. Regardless of why it happened and who is to blame, it is hard to argue that the Blue Jays are better off without Anthopoulos than with him. On this flat measure, the team owner, Rogers, appears to have mismanaged the situation badly.

Seems to me there’s a lesson here for anyone running an organization of any size. You would think a company with the resources of Rogers would be able to prevent personalities and power struggles from damaging its product. I don’t pretend to know anything about what went on in the negotiations leading up to Anthopoulos’ departure, but I know there must have been many junctures along the way where a different path would have led to a different result. Nothing I have seen suggests Anthopoulos wanted to leave that team – he was put in a position where he felt he had to. How, as an organization, do you allow things to get to a point where your best people feel they have no alternative but to leave?

In contrast to the sprawling corporate behemoth that is Rogers, most companies in this industry are small and family-owned. Which means that the danger of personality trumping productivity is even greater. Of course, bosses need to be bosses, but the example of the Blue Jays reminds us all that some self-reflection is in order when it comes to knowing when to sieze control and when to relax your grip so that talented people can do their thing. In the glass business, as on the diamond, it is always best to keep your eye on the ball.


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