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Play ... business! Featured

11:07am EDT August 26, 2003
Patricia Carr watched Washington Wild Things players mingle with fans and sign autographs on the field after a game and noted the way the activity reinforced a bond between the baseball team and its public.

For the Wild Things, the autograph session isn't just good public relations. It's an extension of the teamwork on the field and in the business operations that keeps fans coming back to Falconi Field.

Ross Vecchio, the team's general manager, says teamwork both on and off the field and communication are key reasons for the success of the Wild Things. The team won the Frontier League championship in its inaugural season in 2002 and set first-year league attendance records.

Using sports analogies to describe business principles is probably as old as business and sports. It should hardly be a surprise, then, that Carr, a human resources consultant, and the Washington Wild Things minor league baseball club are teaming up to offer business people insights into teamwork and organizational structure.

The collaboration was initiated when Carr, president of the Oakmont Consulting Group Inc., attended a seminar presented by the Wild Things and got into a discussion with Kent Tekulve, director of baseball operations and former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, about teambuilding and teamwork. The conversation ultimately led to the formation of a series of seminars, led by Carr and Wild Things personnel and players, designed to illustrate the value and dynamics of teamwork and leadership to business people.

"It was a wonderful opportunity to put together all the things they know about baseball with what I do with teamwork," says Carr.

Carr says that businesses too often put together teams without regard to the individual skills needed or without even communicating to each member what their role is and what will be required of them.

"Why, when we put together a business team, aren't we thinking about what skills we need and where the team members should be?" says Carr.

Seminars are offered in two-hour and four-hour versions. The short version covers the basics of teambuilding, including how to select and manage team talent and how to set expectations. The second goes into more detail and includes coaching on teamwork by Tekulve. Both are held either at Falconi Field, the Wild Things home park, or at client sites.

Even managers who know little about baseball, Carr says, can benefit from the sessions.

Says Carr: "I think the whole idea of learning outside of your element is a wonderful opportunity." How to reach: Washington Wild Things, www.washingtonwildthings.com; Oakmont Consulting Group Inc., (412) 828-2448 or DrPatCarr@msn.com