Thursday, June 03, 2010

"When You Come To A Fork In The Road...

…take it." 

It’s one of the great Yogi-isms of all times: When you have a decision to make, make it. 

Even if no one has ever made that particular decision before. Even if it goes against long-standing traditions. If it’s the right decision to make, make it.

Forks in the road come with three choices and three sets of consequences. Take the correct fork and your journey – real or metaphorical – likely moves on to its next fork with minimal or lesser consequences than if you made the wrong decision where you’ll likely suffer some consequences but, if you’re fortunate, have chance to retrace your steps and make a better choice.

Not taking a fork is the worst “decision” of all and carries the most severe consequences. Making no decision means you’ll have no chance to make the right choice - or to recover from a bad choice. The immobility of a non-decision makes you target practice for those who came to a fork and took one.

Brands (recently Tylenol, Toyota, BP, the federal government) are always coming to forks in the road. How a brand responds (or doesn’t) often has significant perceptual impact.

Today’s era of transparency includes owning up to and correcting an honest mistake; it's both expected and rewarded.

Umpire Jim Joyce chose such a fork last night by acknowledging he blew the call that cost Detroit Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. The consequences of the choice to admit this earned Joyce no small amount of respect from all sides.

"The guy had every bit of integrity. He faced the music. He stood there and took it…” Tiger’s manager Jim Leyland said of Joyce adding, “I'm taking about sincere. There was nothing phony about it. This guy was a mess. My heart goes out to him."

Armando Galarraga of course was at his own fork in the road. His choice was adopting a spirit of forgiveness which he publicly demonstrated by bringing the lineup card out to Joyce before today’s game. The consequences of that choice: applause from the fans (a nice choice of forks for them, too) and a tear from an emotional Joyce.

At 2:43 pm today, I was encouraged to learn that the brand called Major League Baseball which has come to a fork in the road because of all this, has promised to take one.

Personally I hope the fork that's ultimately taken (following an investigation – puh-leese make it quick) will be one that retroactively awards Armanda Galarraga a perfect game. Choosing this fork doesn’t mean I advocate instant more replay (I’m don’t) nor do I think that in the grand scheme of life this is a bellwether moment. It would however mean a lot to two people and (in my mind) a lot to the game and the MLB brand.

Still, choosing that fork will be a courageous, controversial, and one that goes against long-standing traditions.

But then that’s the nature of forks in the road – some are hard (especially it seems the ‘right’ fork). But business or baseball, when you come to a fork in the road, you have to take it.

Thanks, Yogi for the reminder.

1 comment:

Catfish said...

Mike....I love the 'fork' article. You are right on on every point.
Except one.
To go back and retroactively award the pitcher a perfect game would be HEINOUS to those of us who played professional baseball and/or follow it on a day to day, team by team basis.
Baseball is the last TRUE sport, where technology has not infiltrated the core and soul of the game.
Umpires are human. As are players.
Let it stand and move on.
Gallaraga will have a much better story, this way, to tell his grandchildren