Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Deep Bench

By Rich Kozlovich

I had an uncle, who during the 1950’s and 60’s, absolutely loved the New York Yankees. No big deal except that he lived south of Pittsburgh. He would argue unendingly about how great they were, and quite frankly based on their record, he was right. However, this was around 1960 when the Pittsburgh Pirates played the Yankees in the World Series. When the Pirates won a game it would be by the skin of their teeth. When the Yankees won it would be by multiple runs. The smart money was on the Yankees as a result. It was down to the seventh game, and the excitement was electric. The entire country was watching and listening about every pitch, every hit, every ball and strike. Kids took off from school to follow the game even though they had been warned that some form of punishment would follow when they returned the next day. Then in the ninth inning Bill Mazeroski hit the greatest home run in baseball history! It was the first home run in baseball history to win a world series; the score was 10 to 9. It wouldn’t happen again for thirty three years.

None of that mattered to my Uncle J.P. He loved the Yankees winning ways, and he loved their bench! He used to claim they had such a deep bench that backups on the Yankees squad would be starters in almost any other team in baseball. Truthfully, he was probably right. In that 1960 World Series there were seven past, present or future league Most Valuable Players. The Pirates had two, Dick Groat in 1960 and Roberto Clemente, 1966. The Yankees had five, and look who they were; Yogi Berra in 1951, 1954, 1955; Mickey Mantle in 1956, 1957, 1962; Roger Maris in 1960 and 1961; Elston Howard in 1963 and Bobby Shantz in 1952. In combination those five players were the league’s Most Valuable Player ten times. No wonder this World Series was talked about for so many years. You normally just don’t expect to beat that kind of bench; and that‘s the point! No matter how well prepared you might be you won’t always win, but with preparation your win versus loss percentage will be much higher than if you aren’t prepared at all; because then you will never win.

Every professional association has long range issues they seem to share. One of them is trying to find those willing to serve as leaders in their industry’s associations. Then the problem can be that those who are willing to serve may not really be capable of serving. Whether it is bad leadership skills or no leadership skills the end result is the same. When the leaders of any industry fail to grasp the complexity of issues and deal with them properly the end result is failure! How can any organization overcome something like that? The answer is that we need a deep bench. One that is deep enough to deal with anything that may come up. The question is of course; how can that be developed?

Every organization must have long range goals that must be planned for; and that requires vision! There are two reasons for a professional association to exist. One, to deal with legislative and regulatory issues, and, two, to inform and train the membership. In neither of these categories can we afford a do nothing agenda or incapable personnel. To have proper training classes requires trainers who have the background and understanding of the subject and the ability to convey that information. Can any less be expected of those who have to deal with regulatory and legislative issues?

About five years or so the Ohio Pest Management Association (OPMA) created Future Pest Managers of Ohio (FPMO) in hopes of molding future leaders. As in any new implementation of a long range goal it is difficult in the beginning to know exactly how this will develop over time. What will their duties and responsibilities be and how it will be funded? This has been flexible and I think successfully so. FPMO has been a work in progress from the beginning, and should always be a work in progress. This allows for a necessary degree of flexibility as things change. These are people who are talented but have limited experience in association activities, but wish to grow as individuals and future owners or managers. The fact that they are devoting so much time and effort to OPMA activities speaks well of their character.

There are times when those with little experience may feel overwhelmed by all of what the elder statesmen of the association has been dealing with, and this is completely understandable. It is also commendable because it shows that they realize the importance of what our leaders are doing and place value on it. In our early years we can be intimidated by things such as this because of our lack of experience. We are entering zones of discomfort because we are afraid of failing; and not just fear of failing for ourselves, but a fear of failing those who have placed their trust in us. In order to encourage the growth and experience necessary to fulfill the association’s future needs, we intend to help anyone who is interested to gain that experience through observation of those currently in leadership positions. This will give them time to absorb and digest the information and insights these leaders have acquired over time.

We will be encouraging those who have sat in leadership chairs in the past to continue their involvement to act as mentors on various committees as chairmen, co-chairs or committee members to be there to advise. We would like to see the younger or inexperienced members become committee members on more than one committee and rotate committees so that they can be a part of the information exchange. This cross training will lend valuable background experience. They will see what the issues are, what decisions are made, why they are made and how the exchange of information creates final decisions. Association work is far different that being the CEO of a company. There will be different perspectives presented that will have to be dealt with. This can be valuable because of the balancing effect of other personalities.

The ultimate goal should be wisdom. Wisdom is the application of knowledge and understanding. Their job now will be to gather as much information from as many levels about what we do as possible. They will automatically begin to develop understanding. which will be followed by application; hopefully wise application. They will not be placed in situations that are beyond them. Eventually each will find the niche where they will excel, but by then they should have a broad understanding of the whole process. They will have time to observe, absorb and digest; this is a gradual process that will allow for depth. Being smart and well read is a plus but that will not overcome the lack of experience and institutional memory because the learning curve is too great for anyone to jump in without the historical background necessary to deal with the serious issues that confront our industry. Not only will they eventually be able to assume the work, they will learn why to accept the philosophy. This must become an industry paradigm.


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