Get your team to a seventh game

Wow what a World Series with seven tough games. I see so many parallels in the way winners in baseball have evolved with the way business processes have as well. Some days in business it feels like the big game with everything riding on a few key decisions, strategic moves and how the team responds to adversity but it doesn’t have too if there is a well thought out plan and process. 

This year’s combatants the Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers got to the most coveted game in sports because they shared a commitment to a well thought out plan mixed with just the right measure of gut experience and, yes, luck.

Six years ago the Astros began a rebuilding program where they committed to stripping away all of their high cost veteran players so they could stock up on the right kind of players based on a master plan. Most of teams adjust their plan every year to either make a run for it or jettison salaries only to come back and start over again in the off season. The Astros ownership signed off on a 22 page blueprint for building the team. The way baseball was played was changing and the team committed to be an analytically driven youthful and nimble club. As a business owner you face the same challenges every week, month and year. How do you keep winning business, creating new saleable products and still adapt to the changes in your marketplace?  I believe the Astro and Dodgers show us the model.

Identify the kind of players and culture you want to have on your team. This is hard work and it can be a challenge when you are so close to the details, but it is essential you are honest with yourself and your colleagues.  Once you know who you are now, and who you want to be, it is time to work on the process points. 

The Dodgers have a very systematic approach to the way they use their bullpen. The starters rarely go more than five innings. Then each reliever is brought in for a specific situation and it all leads to the closer. This formula occasionally breaks down (after all they are human) but it works because they are setting the players up for success and their roles are clearly understood. This is even more essential in the business world. Simply defining the role of the brand and marketing team in the sales process makes the process measurable, accountable, and repeatable. If a market condition changes you have the process in place so they can respond and adjust their messaging. The same certainly applies to the sales team. Do you have starters who handle high level clients? How about setup folks for appointments? And who is the closer and when do they get the call. If you don’t know then you may very well have everyone on your team trying to do too much and not as effectively as you might.

Only two teams make the World Series each year. The club with the best plan and process is going to be there a lot more often than even a team of superstars swinging for the fences on every pitch.


Jim LaMarca