Category Archives: Moshi Kouko Yakyuu no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no “Management” o Yondara

Year in Review: N-Listing

So, the tradition continues. 12 lists of 12 things. Some are ranked, others are not. One this year is not ranked but merely numerated.

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A Cynical View of Moshidora

So coincidentally, I found that my American-style of thinking does suggest why I can’t take a story about Drucker’s style of management, written for a 21st century audience, seriously. It even doesn’t imply anything about cynicism for Americans (Are we more cynical? I have no idea).

Forbes columnist and econ writer (among other things) Steve Denning wrote the other day (hey thanks JP) about some book that I didn’t read, but I went away with his highlight on some of the challenges facing the American economy in the new century. Among them, chiefly, is one about management. You can read his blog post here. And you should, because I’m going to quote it right here:

Over the last couple of decades, there has been an epochal shift in the balance of power from seller to buyer. For the first two-thirds of the 20th Century, oligopolies were in charge of the marketplace. These companies were successful by pushing products at customers, and manufacturing demand through advertising. But this situation changed.

Today customers have instant access to reliable information and have options: they can choose firms who delight them and avoid companies whose principal objective is taking money from our wallets and putting in their own. The result is a fundamental shift in power in the marketplace from the seller to the buyer: not only do customers not appreciate being treated as “demand” to be manufactured: now they can do something about it. If they are not delighted, they can and do go elsewhere.

The second is a fundamental shift in the workplace where the nature of work has shifted from semi-skilled to knowledge work. Meeting the business imperative of delighting customers can only be accomplished if the knowledge workers contribute their full talents and energy to contribute continuous innovation. Treating employees as “human resources” to be manipulated undermines the workforce commitment that is needed.

As a result, the 20th Century management system—the goose that laid America’s golden egg—stopped delivering. The monumental study by Deloitte’s Center for the Edge shows that the rate of return on assets of US companies is one quarter of what it was in 1965; the life expectancy of firms in the Fortune 500 has fallen from around 75 years half a century ago to just 15 years today and is falling fast. Only one in five employees is fully engaged in his or her work. And a study by the Kauffman Foundation showed that firms older than five years produced almost no net new jobs in the period 1980 to 2005 (whereas firms younger than 5 years created around 40 million jobs in that period.)

And right after that, Denning starts a section with this title.

The world changed but management didn’t[.]

Drucker’s landmark book was published 1973. It was the pinnacle of 20th century economic power indeed.

If you recall, some basic and fundamental key concepts are used in Moshidora as chapter heading. The two I want to highlight are “customer” and “innovation.” And maybe the whole thing about result-oriented view of measuring success.  Those terms and concepts still mean the same thing in Moshidora as it does in Denning’s blog post. I believe those fundamental concepts introduced in Moshidora are the most valuable things it offered in the way of teaching management. But the way how Minami transformed Kodobuko’s baseball team is a classic sort of thing that today’s marketplace leaders of America (ie, people whose companies with RESULTS) do not do.

When I saw it, I was like, hurrrrrrr. Maybe we should just go back to DRRR and understand how someone like Mikado transforms and apply his human resources. Because that is the way of the future. Or the present. And the way of Moshidora is like “oh Japan, you’re so post-war.” I guess I am more a victim of exposure to random management ideas and not so much a sound schooling of the classics ideas of management. But what good is the classics if what’s happening to Japan’s economy is any demonstration of the results of that line of thought? Besides, if I was teaching kids on how to manage a baseball team, I wouldn’t try to teach them managements concepts, I would teach them the value of cyclic innovation and the benefits of empowering autonomous, small groups. The rest will come naturally.

This Is Why I Watched Moshidora

Moshidora is a fundamentally sound anime. You would think a show about management principles would at least have the “principle” part down in the subject matter. It has to; because a core tenant of sound management is to determine and follow through these underlying principles. And it’s a NHK animated special, it has to be fundamentally sound…right?

I think what elevates Moshidora beyond a trite exercise at edutainment is that I can soundly apply cynicism towards its primary subject matter (which, not to be confused with baseball, is management) and the show respond to it. But whole manager’s angle to sports (and by manager I mean high school girl, and by high school girl I mean a anime-style 2D-construct voiced by Hiyocchi, and…you get the idea), is why I’m here, too.

On the conflict of goal-oriented versus process-oriented philosophies: it’s a philosophical conflict rather than one that results in fundamental problems. As in, I personally believe either way gets you where you want to go. More specifically, when there is only one way, both philosophies will lead you to it. The way they may diverge simply imply that goals were not set to include all your stakeholders, or someone is hiding something. I believe the “right” read here during Minami’s last chat with Yuki is suppose to show that Minami has lost sight of the long-term, unspoken goals and was too focused on the intermediate ones.

It’s kind of like talking with amateur fans who watches too much SC2 pro matches and not realize the goal is  to just have fun when playing the game, or not realizing the context in which these very high level games were playing at, that as applied to their bronze-level play it doesn’t really make sense.

That is an overarching purpose of sportsmanship. One that is sorely not cultivated in the age of video games. We need it badly.

On the hardness of life, Evirus spelled it out well. Baseball is unrelenting like that: statistics is yet another type of tool of the devil. I’m not a sabermetrics person but I believe in some of its fundamental concepts; hard working person, doing everything right, has no guarantee of success. It’s only when taken from a large sample, the statistics would say they are successful. It’s an illusion when applied individually, but it can highlight sound baseball principles. It just means nothing in a single-game face-off, and little more in a best of 5 or best of 7. It is not about being the best, it’s about being the best all the damn time. (See: the dude who chokes 3 times in a row.) The former is achieved through the stuff all those crying baseball anime is about (as in, it’s fiction; a fantasy), the latter is achieved through management.

Going to bounce off Evirus’s post some more: on pitching and control, I think it’s a little more specific than that. No-bunt-no-ball strategy is just a simplified version of style of play when your pitcher is pitching-to-contact. You’re playing the odds, and you can manipulate the odds somewhat when you execute certain plays: namely when your pitcher can consistently throw 2-seam fastballs and a complementary pitch for strikes. IIRC in the high school level, 2-seam fastballs are the predominate form of fastballs? In Oofuri, it’s actually much less about control and more about delivery–Mihashi’s out pitch is a fastball that isn’t, he gets hitters out by fooling them. (I think Evirus just didn’t get far enough to see this.) At least, once we get over how amazing he can throw pitches to the 9 zones at his level, anyways. Which is to say that’s the usual sort of the miracle plot devices I give these baseball anime/manga a free pass on.

The last thing to bounce off: no-bunt has a specific context. Bunting in MLB is something you do mainly because either the batter at the plate is probably not going to have a productive at-bat (which can be due to a lot of different reasons, such as the opposing pitcher is on a row, or the pitcher is batting, etc), or you want to just threaten to bunt, giving the infielders something to think about or position them a certain way. At that level of play, the infielders have tremendous responsibilities given the average caliber of batters being able to muscle any pitch (even a lot of balls) through the infield by strength alone. That additional threat of bunting can be a big deal in terms of opening gaps in the infield defense. There are times when a speedy lefty batter would bunt for a hit, but it’s safe to say those hitters do so to keep the infielders on their toes; hitters at that level is expect to be able to slug, if at least to expand their marketability as an all-around player.

In the context of Japanese high school baseball, bunting is often the statistically smart move to play given an uneven lineup for moving the runner. Not bunting means a few distinct things:

  • You don’t need to do bunt drills–remember these are noobs, and students, who are time-throttled and thus you can optimize their training more on hitting. It also optimize their at-bat experience. Someone who bunts all the time isn’t going to get those good looks at the pitcher.
  • You don’t need to keep the defense honest by reminding them you’re bunting. By the book, the bunt is always on with less than 2 outs with a runner on base. It would be a reliable psychological factor until the opposing coach got enough of a scouting report on you. For the unprepared coaching staff, they may even plan their inning wrong.

That’s all on top of the whole Moneyball stuff Evirus aluded to. There are other advantages: every batter is a RBI risk (psychologically); no easy outs means you wear the opposing pitcher down more, giving your pitcher more rest between innings (a big deal for those summer tournaments), whatever.

Now I can nitpick Moshidora in terms of how scouting play a role in competitive baseball at that level (read: it plays a huge role) but whatever. For people who can appreciate all that nonsense, the show is a fun watch. If the economics doesn’t get to you first.

PS. What if a high school baseball team’s manager read Lewis’s Moneyball? Does this mean my cynicism is naturally, uh, American?

Something Positive about Some Anime

I’m watching way too many anime. And I don’t know what to cut. I don’t even want to cut, but it’s robbing me sleep, and while that’s fine now and then I don’t know if I’ll live for 3 months like this. Well, it’s not so serious; I just want my 7hr of sleep and all the other social perks that comes with living it up, you know?

Thinking about it, there are a lot of pretty interesting shows doing something right this season. I’m going to try to say a little bit about all the shows that I really want to follow, and can be cut. If a show is not listed here it means I am not watching it, or I can’t cut it, or if it’s Hoshizora Kakeru Hashi. Because that show…I have nothing to say about it, even if I am kind of watching it. Also, Moshidora is over already, so…

After writing up the list, I noticed the more I write about something, the higher chances that I am more attached I am to it than a show with a shorter point. It’s not always the case but that’s just how it ended up.

30-sai – Practical advice in a humorous form. If Moshidora is Drucker High School, 30-sai is your gossipy older sister or married friend who is trying to help you out.

A Channel – It’s just quirky enough to stand out.

AnoHana – Anal hair styles, and Jintan’s t-shirts (tho they could be more sarcastic). More seriously, it does a good job showing how circumstances amplifiy positive and negative emotions, and it’s almost like being mesmerized by a cell screensaver. Less seriously, I want to see “Team Menma” cosplays where a bunch of Yukiatsu cosplayers line up with pride.

[C] – Tomatsu makes a fiery pokemon, she’s fun to watch.

Blue Exorcist – It looks really good.

Deadman Wonderland – The only thing pushing this show forward is the mystery element, but it is a pretty good one because it is covered up by the weirdly large setting they have in place.

Hen Zemi – In a Qwaser sort of way, but more close to home in terms of how over the top some of these characters can be.

Hidan no Aria – I keep talking about the Segue + Uzi combo, but that’s so clever I can’t stop myself.

Kaminomi – As others have said, the best thing was how Saori Hayami’s Haqua worked out as well as it did, contrary to expectation (or lack of in my case).

Lotte no Omocha – Besides the fact that Horie’s character got her boobs milked, the iyashikei focus is a nice touch. It kind of makes me wonder why this hasn’t happened earlier, the iyashikei x harem angle.

Moshidora – The daily presentation is helping a lot. I don’t think my attention span would have survived 10 weeks. Nor is it fair to ask for that much for a (even if it is inspiring) display of Drucker management basics. I think two weeks is about right from a syllabus planning perspective.

Nichijou – It’s funny, and there is at least enough number of gags per episode to not miss any one single week.

OreTsuba – The narrative style presents a very weird premise with a lot of intrigue via its nonlinear presentation of life as is from independent third-person perspectives that are connected plot-wise. Of course it is still an act of deception via omission, but at least it ordered things right so that when it does tell you the trick, it makes sense and carries dramatic impact.

Seishun Otoko – The Seishun point system. It adds a “game” layer that is fun to wrap your mind around, kind of like seeing Mahoro’s expiration date but without the cheap emotional play.

Sket-dan – If anything, pacing is  fast and on the dot for this Jump manga adaptation.

Steins;Gate – Okarin is very likable, kind of like Wah but actually crazy and use Real Facts to back up his statements. It works well with the overall mood of the show.

SoftTeni – Cute girls doing amusing things.

Tiger & Bunny – It’s the better superhero anime this season, mainly because it’s the traditional, character-driven drama that anime is best known for outside the violence and porn perception of the west.

Cheers for Managers Everywhere

I enjoy Moshidora, otherwise known as a relatively stale, sponsored-by-NHK affair. I think the below explains why. I mean, why I enjoy it. If a show can naturally illustrate the problem with Drucker-style management, it’s quite something. And I quote:

It’s not really funny. It’s not trying to be, I don’t think, but as a drama it doesn’t really make sense. The lead character is supposed to be the one who manages everything, but she’s infinitely worse at it than pretty much everyone else. Hell, the short-haired girl picks up a copy of Management and is a genius statistician so I’m not entirely sure why they even need Minami anymore. She doesn’t seem to contribute anything that can’t be replicated by her friends (being good at management tasks, slapping whiny little bitches) or the coach and team captain (knowing something about baseball).

Did I Miss Something?

She doesn’t even manage anything! She just says random bullshit and somebody else does all the work for her! Then she takes all the credit!

Wait, fuck, she’s an amazing manager.

I laughed, because I was thinking the same thing. It goes on–by episode 5 the management team has ballooned from 2 to 4, one “promoted” to management from the players. That’s like, 1:2 management to player ratio (counting the coach as a manager). It’s true to concept, but the ridiculousness highlights the downsides of that style of management. I’m not even particularly concerned about the “negative enforcement loop” thing, because that’s just being unnecessarily cynical. There are plenty of problems even if you are quite positive about the whole affair. And what’s more, in order to go on, they end up recruiting more people, thinning out from a bunch of other people who has their dreams crushed.

If anything, Minami’s background as an ex-player weakens that sharp satirical view, which may detract from the overall concept. Well, it is educational for a smart apple, but I’m not sure any of them is watching this show. Still, honestly, that’s more enjoyment than I get out of your average anime.

Well, it is still educational. I mean, think about it: whose children grow up to want to be a manager? I guess now a boy whose parents tuned him to this NHK’s little special might want to grow up to date a manager instead. Or, perhaps more shockingly, become a manager himself? That move may get him teased and bullied in school, but it could land him a job after graduation, so all is well. The surprisingly progressive angle is just sprinkles on the icing on the cake, I guess.