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As someone raised to cheer on the Chicago Cubs, my relationship with baseball fandom has always been fraught -- especially because I can remember first really following the Cubs day in, day out in 1969, the year of the epic collapse at the hands of the Miracle Mets. I’ve been pretty detached over the past several years, and haven’t followed the whole “Moneyball”-driven transformation of the game all that closely.

So I had no inkling of the sorts of innovations that managers are trying out, the most recent of which seems to be the Tampa Bay Rays dispensing with one of the foundational ideas in the game -- the starting pitcher. Apparently the Rays are experimenting with a strategy where the pitcher who starts the game will, by design, only pitch the first couple of innings, and then be replaced by a series of relievers who are rotated in over the course of the game. This blew my mind. And it also kind of made sense.

In what other organization do you approach a task by having one person do all the work, and the ideal situation is one where everyone else with that skill set is never called upon to perform? Anyone who leads or is part of a team knows intuitively that what you want to do most, if not all the time, is draw on the best of everyone.

So you can see where this discussion is beginning to sidle up to the topic of enterprise communications. Like baseball managers, enterprise communications decision-makers are charged with getting the optimal result out of a group of people, each of whom possesses his or her own abilities to perform within a standardized set of functions. The task is to deploy that aggregate set of abilities in the way that accomplishes the goal.

And what I think is particularly relevant here is that the way we view “the task” is changing. When the technology was siloed and rigid, so were the job responsibilities. But a changing world has changed our thinking and encouraged us to really focus on just the end goal: Win the game if you’re a baseball manager; advance business goals if you’re in enterprise communications. Maybe you should be re-thinking how you use your team’s talents to achieve that end.

We all know that the job and the challenges of communications folks are changing rapidly, and that others within the enterprise -- line-of-business managers, knowledge workers (aka “shadow IT”), application developers -- are likely to be much more involved in determining what communications and collaboration even mean within a particular enterprise. That too is influencing the way communications teams approach their task.

This is a topic we’re planning to explore in some depth at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2019, and we could really use your help. Since at this point there’s no clear pathway already established, I’m sure that its impact on your enterprise is very different from how it’s affecting others’. So me and my colleagues on the EC19 program committee, Beth Schultz and Michelle Burbick, would love to hear from you about the types of content and session topics that you might find beneficial around this issue. Our “brainstorm” list includes ideas like how to develop talent and teams; how to work with other groups within the enterprise; understanding business needs; and encouraging women and diversity in communications teams. But we need your help: Are these really the right topics? Can a conference experience like Enterprise Connect really provide solid value for you in these areas, and if so, how?

Please email me at [email protected], or Beth or Michelle. We’d love to get your input on how to build the teams that can respond to the way this game is played in the 21st century.