Fenestration Fundamentals January/February 2021

August 18th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

Leaving It on the Field: In Hindsight, Big Changes Often Look Simple and Inevitable

By Mike Burk

In the first 75 years of professional baseball, players would leave their gloves out on the playing field when it came time for their turn at bat. Outfielders would drop them right where they stood. Infielders would drop them in foul territory, or even on the in-field grass. But in 1954, the nine-man rules committee introduced a new rule: “Members of the offensive team shall carry all gloves and personal equipment off the field and into the dugout while their team is at bat. No equipment shall be left lying on the field either in fair or foul territory.”

The rule change was unpopular and met great resistance—so much so  that owners of American League teams voted not to abide. In his book, titled “1954,” author Bill Madden writes that the rule change “evoked howls of resistance from players, managers and executives.” And boy was he right. Officials for the White Sox claimed the new rule was, “driving [them] nuts,” while the Philadelphia Phillies called it, “a silly rule.” Managers saw the new rule as opening opportunities for deliberately delaying games. Meanwhile, Ralph Houk (an American catcher, coach, manager and front office executive) claimed that the new rule would “never work” and was a “terrible thing.”

An Honest Look

Today, resistance to such a simple rule change appears to be an overreaction. Think back to the last time someone brought you, your department or your company a new idea. Maybe it was for a new product, a different or improved production method, or a new way of doing something. Did the idea evoke “howls of resistance” from production workers, managers and executives? These howls beg the question: Where would your company be today if your predecessors had closed their minds to new ideas? What if, once upon a time, they thought that insulating glass was “silly” and unnecessary? What would your profit margins be if someone decided that you shouldn’t use glass with low-E coatings because it would drive the production department “nuts?” Yet, how simple and inevitable do these things seem today?

Before you become too self-assured and convince yourself that you’re always open to new ideas, consider some of the new options available to your company. Where do you stand on life cycle assessment? Do you think that the assessment is only for big companies in certain states or that it will never be an issue for you? When it comes to innovations, have you considered the production or use of vacuum insulating glass (VIG) in your doors and windows, or do you think that VIG is too expensive and will never become popular? Are you promoting triple IGUs, or even quads, or are you currently limited by weight and thickness due to the design of your window components? The list goes on.

Sixty-seven years later, we cannot imagine baseball players leaving their gloves on the field, when a stray baseball or litter blowing around the outfield will stop a game immediately. Point being: Times change and we must always be open to new ideas. To stay competitive, you must be flexible and knowledgeable of our everchanging industry. Investigate new products and participate in industry trade associations. In the end, bring options for your company’s future to the conference room despite “howls of resistance.”

Mike Burk is the North American technical representative for Sparklike.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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