June 2008: Full Contact Project Management


June 2008

Full Contact Project Management

Leading With the Principles of Baseball

Gary MicheloniBy “Coach” Gary Micheloni

Catch the ball; throw the ball; hit the ball. These are basic principles of baseball, taught patiently each week to thousands of children by volunteer coaches and helpers. The coaches are effective, because they teach the basics. And, the kids are eager to learn from the coaches, because the kids really don’t know much about the game, except that they’re in it.

Often in this column, I use sports to illustrate a point. Usually, the focus is on athletes at the pinnacle of their games, from a pro or Olympic athlete to a great college or high school player. But a T-baller? A 6-year-old? Absolutely!

Shown is Taiten Miller, grandson of Full Contact Project Manager columnist Gary Michelon. Taiten plays in a league in San Marcos, Calif.

Shown is Taiten Miller, grandson of Full Contact Project Manager columnist Gary Michelon. Taiten plays in a league in San Marcos, Calif.

Recently, I watched an absolutely exciting, pedal-to-the-metal, full-on, T-ball game. I came away realizing that incredible lessons are taught there, not only about sportsmanship, but also about life and professionalism.

T-ball is a pure sport. None of the kids has yet been damaged by ego, and every kid goes into every game believing that he or she can contribute to the team. All the kid knows is that, if the ball is up on the tee, then it’s time to take a whack at it. He knows he needs to hit it out into the field, and then run like crazy toward first base. Once the kid gets there, the first base coach will give him a high five, congratulating him on a fabulous at-bat. He did his best, great or not, and he’s learning.

The coach also congratulates the kid who threw the ball toward first base, whether the ball made it on time or not. The kid made the throw and tried his best. He has been trained to know that anytime the ball gets hit his way, he’s supposed to make a play, usually to first base.

Coach Gary says:“When you’re at bat, get on first base any way that you can.”

It’s amazing to see each kid’s improvement in just a few short weeks. As I watched my grandson, Tait, and his San Marcos Phillies take on the dreaded Giants, each kid on both teams hit the ball three times, ran the bases three times, and played three full innings out in the field — complete teamwork and terrific sportsmanship. The teams congratulated each other at the end of the game, and not a single friendship was lost. Everyone learned a little more about the game, including the parents, the coaches and me!

Lesson learned

Watching that game, I knew there was a lesson we could put to use immediately: Begin with the basics. If a youngster with proper coaching can learn the basics of a ballgame, why couldn’t a “rookie” with a good coach learn the basics of a business, or even project management?

Coach Gary says:

“You know, sometimes if you just try really hard to make a play, good things can happen.”

You know that during the construction process, something unexpected can arise on one of your jobs almost every day. Are you going to ignore it, or will you go after it with at least the same enthusiasm as a pack of 6-year-olds chasing a ground ball into the outfield?

You’ve got a responsibility to your field team and your company. When some jobsite superintendent takes a whack at a problem and sends it your way, laying it at your feet, pick it up and make a throw. Aim at first base.

What is considered first base? When the skipper of the opposing team — the superintendent — expects you to do something (for free), let him know “It’s not ours.” Send him an RFI explaining that the problem isn’t yours, but that it’s affecting your ability to perform your work, and ask him how he wants you to proceed. You’ve thrown him out. You’ve learned he can’t always hit the ball all that hard, and he really can’t run very fast. He’s out at first!

Coach Gary says:

“Stop worrying about what that giant of a superintendent might think, and just throw him out.”

How about I make this easy for you? How about if I give you something valuable that will make you a lot of money for free? Go to my newest Web site,, and click on the link near the top of the page that talks about signing up for my five-part mini series on RFIs and change orders. You’ll be thanking me for a long time that you learned this stuff.

Coach Gary’s Corner:

How’s 2008 going for you, so far? Ready to learn those RFI basics? Get Coach’s free, five-part course on RFIs and change orders. Visit and get this valuable tool. Check out the free audio updates and other info that will help your projects. You also can get Coach Gary’s book “Get Paid for a Change!”





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