Win More by Copying the Red Sox

It can be dangerous to apply too many lessons from sports to business.

But as a lifelong, passionate Boston Red Sox fan, the team’s World Series win this past weekend is just too good an opportunity to pass up. 🙂

Statistically, this was the best team in the 117 year history of the franchise – a record number of regular season wins and a dominating championship march through the playoffs against very good Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers teams.

As a fan, the team’s awesome success has been an enjoyable diversion from the stresses of life and business.

As a businessman, three wisdoms from the team’s success stand out.

And can be applied to any business seeking to win more:

#3. Resources Matter.

It is no coincidence that the World Series Champs Red Sox, at $228 million, had the league’s highest payroll, and more than three times as much as smaller budget rivals like the Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland A’s, and Tampa Bay Rays.

Yes leadership matters, culture matters, strategy matters, but cash is the fuel of business.

And the amount of it available to execute upon and accelerate key business initiatives is very often the most important factor in a company attaining breakout success.

For sure, business accomplishments on a smaller scale are possible with more constrained resources, but being world class almost always requires extensive resources of all types – people, marketing, technology – that only a lot of money can buy.

Very importantly almost all smaller companies aren’t and can’t generate the cash they need to grow big fast from operating activities alone.

Instead, to get it they almost always need to raise growth capital, either debt or equity.

As I wrote last week, turbulence in the stock market, rising interest rates, and ongoing government dysfunction have created a closing window for smaller companies to access capital on attractive terms and values.

So as outside financing is potentially part of your growth plan, best to get after it now before conditions potentially get much worse.

#2. Think Big by Thinking Small.

Many rightly complain that modern baseball has gotten too bloated, too slow, too “analytics-driven.”

Yet the mystical rhythm of baseball remains…pitchers pitch, batters hit, fielders field.

And while doing, little and big leaguers alike dream of throwing that pitch or getting that hit that wins the World Series.

But too often the  longing for big and distant goals can distract us from – in the present time – performing on the work right in front of us with our best attention and effort.

In contrast, peak performers live and work in the “now” and this year’s Red Sox were no exception.

One night, after 18 innings and seven hours of play, they lost the longest game in World Series history.

And then fell behind 4-0 in the next game.

The commentators droned on about the emotional “trauma” of these setbacks and how-oh-how would they ever recover?

They did the only way they could – one pitch, one hit at a time – and came back and won 2 games in a row to clinch the series.

In business, as opposed to balls and strikes, it is emails, calls, and meetings but the principle remains is the same.

Put those big exciting goals in place for sure, but mostly let’s engage in focused and purposeful work and trust that magic will happen.

#1. A Great Team is a Collection of Great Individuals.

Because it is at the same time both a team and individual game, baseball is the sport that most mirrors modern business.

It is a team game, because score is kept collectively.

But in its fundamental elements – pitcher versus ball, batter versus ball, ball versus fielder, the players are fundamentally on their own.

Most modern work is like this too.

All of us work in some context with others – managers, reports, customers, vendors, partners – but we must create and are measured on the work we do as individuals.

Collaborative magic happens when – because of the “team” – the quality and quantity of our individual work effortlessly becomes all that much greater and better.

Even casual baseball observers could see and feel the easy and respectful camaraderie of the Red Sox managers and players.

And lifted by it, in an uber-competitive arena like baseball where the difference between failure and success is often just fractions of a second, the Red Sox were just that small but critical bit better than lesser teams.

It is straightforward – 3) build a team culture that supports and rewards great individual work. 

2) define and know the the big picture but mostly focus on just doing our best work today.

And 1) by any means necessary procure and spend enough resources to perform and win on the big stage.

And your business too will someday be a world champion!

Want to Win a Championship in YOUR business?

Working hard but not getting ahead?

Need an injection of ideas and accountability?

Then learn more about our innovation planning and change management services here.

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