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On to the next thing

One season ends, another begins.

The events of last week were nothing if not emblematic of that. The NCAA tournament came to a close with Duke's victory over Arizona, and the next sports season simultaneously got under way with the opening games of the 2001 Major League Baseball season. In much the same way, the home textile industry's dark winter season seemed to be giving way to the somewhat warmer rays of the spring.

This is the time for team building. Rookies are looking for a starting position on the roster. Veterans have already proved they have the skills; now they're working hard to demonstrate they can continue to perform at peak level.

And the scout … ah, those hard to please scouts, they're out looking for gamers. They want to make sure the veterans can still hit their marks. And they're scanning the field for the odd rookie who can pull off the spectacular.

Since we are in the time of transition — from one season to another, from one mode of doing business to another — this suggests itself as a time to review some basic elements of the game.

And stripped down to its fundamentals, business is at its heart the most robust of games.

So, with a nod to the season that is upon us, the three essentials of playing good ball: pitching, fielding and hitting.

Pitching. Rule number one: Listen to your catcher. And we're talking about the end-user here — the consumer — the only person who can truly evaluate the quality of your delivery better than you can yourself. The buyer, er … umpire may make the calls, but the ball is being pitched at the catcher, and the catcher is the one with the best perspective on your effort.

Fielding. You have to catch the ball before you throw the ball. In retail as in sports, this is a matter of pure logistics. You have to know where all the components of the game — or pieces in the pipeline — are located, where they're headed next, what could go wrong and what you need to do to make everything fall into place the way it's supposed to.

Hitting: What does a really good hitter have that other hitters don't have? Stellar coordination. You're hitting a round ball with a round bat — squarely. You're one player against a field of others, and for that reason, you can't allow yourself to be intimidated by the opposition.

The odds of hitting a home run are influenced by myriad factors — skill, size and determination. But it's important to remember that home runs are among the least frequent of all hits. Most games are won by an accumulation of well-executed plays. And that requires visionary leadership, solid strategy and first-rate delivery.

Ultimately, the game is won on fundamentals.

Play ball.

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