Willy Mays

As a young baseball fan growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area I had the privilege of seeing some great San Francisco Giants play ball. Orlando Cepeda, Bobby Bonds, Willy McCovey, and most notably Willy Mays. Someone once asked Willy what made him such a great baseball player. Willy said, “They throw the ball I hit it. They hit the ball I catch it.”

Wait a minute. That’s all there is to it? I mean I saw him do it and it was a thing of beauty but was it really as simple as Willy implied? Well if it was that simple then everyone could do it. Right?

Baseball is a game of complexity that demands planning, strategy, mental preparation, and physical endurance. It is often compared to a chess game in this case played by two managers organizing and directing players from the edge of their respective dugouts. Willy distilled these complexities into two simple actions: hit the ball when they throw it and catch it when they hit it. Don’t fool yourself. Willy understood the complexities of the game at a detailed level and worked very hard at being great. Yet when it came down to execution he thought of two things: Hit the ball and catch the ball. And he did it better than anyone who ever played the game.

Like playing great baseball, delivering a great customer experience is complex, demands planning, mental preparation, and even physical endurance. But all those things should be transparent to the customer much like Willy’s hard work and preparation was transparent to me as a kid on a cold windy evening at Candlestick Park. I just wanted a great experience watching great baseball; I didn’t give a hoot about the preparation and everything that went on behind the scenes.

As a consumer I want the same experience I had watching Willy Mays play ball. Don’t bother me with the details. I want my service providers to think like Willy: You ask a question I answer it. You need service I provide it. You want quality I deliver it.

Pretty simple, right?


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