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What business owners can learn from the Boston Red Sox - Strategically 3 is a magic number

All good things come in 3’s are there are 3 ingredients of business success – a clear VISION – a practical PLAN – and strong DESIRE.

But sometimes those core ingredients alone are not enough. As the new baseball season opens, what can business owners learn from the Boston Red Sox?  With thanks and appreciation to my co-collaborator for this blog - Jeff Deckman at Capability Accelerators.

Pitch 1

You have a clear VISION of what you want the business to look like in 3 years. You know what changes are required to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’. You have decided what are the really ‘key strategic thrusts’ required to make the vision happen.

You have taken those ‘key strategic thrusts’ and for each have put together a detailed action PLAN. You are clear as to how those plans will impact your business structure and people. You are measuring KPI’s and everybody is accountable.

As business owner, you have a strong DESIRE to make it happen. You are highly motivated to maximize your business profits and value.

So what can possibly go wrong? 

Strike 1 – your people may not be engaged !

Pitch 2

Are all your people ‘playing in tune’?  (thanks again to Chris Ready at DiPrete Engineering for prompting the thinking behind the above image).

As the owner, you probably have the necessary desire, but have you harnessed the collective desire of the organization? Ask yourselves a few hard questions.

- Is your workforce engaged or disengaged?

- Is your management style ‘talk  & tell’ (C20th) or ‘communicate & collaborate’ (C21st)?

- Do you still believe in the power of the organization chart (C20th) or the power of the knowledge network (C21st)?

- Are you truly harnessing the ‘collective genius’ of your people?

- Have you created a culture of trust in your business – or is your workplace a ‘dog eat dog’ world?

Strike 2 – you have forgotten that culture is core to business success !

So the big question - is it going to be another strike on pitch 3?

Collaborating requires multi-directional communication. That means establishing real time – ‘2 way’ – communication with teammates.

But more than that, it also means thinking about creating effective communication with other stakeholders like board members, customers and shareholders.

Think about how you are going to achieve effective communication – think about  ‘Tom Brady in the huddle’ – but also the lines of communication that Tom Brady needs to establish with the coaches, Bill Bellichick and his fellow teammates.

If you can do that – you may just avoid strike 3.

Phew the umpire has called it a ‘ball’!. We’re still at the plate!

Now - lets ‘knock it out of the park’

Ultimately business success is largely dependent on business culture. As Peter Drucker once said ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ (or was that lunch?).

We have a great example of the power of culture here on our doorstep in New England.

Just think about the culture of the 2012 Boston Red Sox. Bobby Valentine lost the players – it was a ‘dog eat dog’ world in the clubhouse  – characterized by the image of players having ‘beer and chicken’.

Now think about the culture of the 2013 Boston Red Sox.  The first thing John Farrell did in spring training was tell the players ‘I’ve got your back’. He created a ‘navy seal’ type culture (with many of the same group of players from 2012). That shift in culture was ultimately characterized by the image of beards, ‘Boston Strong’ and winning the World Series (#GoRedSox).

So what choice are you going to make – will it be ‘strike 3’ – or are you going to ‘knock it out of the park’?

In strategic terms – 3 is a magic number – but try to avoid strike 3 - remember the importance of business culture!






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