Thursday, October 28, 2004

Business Lessons from the Red Sox

Aside from all the hype about the curse of the Bambino and beating the Yankees, the success of the Red Sox team this year can provide a reminder to those of us in the business world, on what really needs to be done to be successful.

1 - You start with a vision. What does it look like in your future state? How are you operating? What are you doing? How do you get there? The Red Sox vision was nothing less than winning the World Series. Their mission adjusted along the way, series to series, home stand to road trip but was always in support of the vision. {Yes, Lou Gerstner in “Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change” did not make much of the “vision thing”. In his role, in that period for IBM, the vision was well understood. What was lacking was the focus and the execution. So I would not use Gerstner to say you never need a vision. If you don’t have one, you do. If you have one, you develop the mission statements to support it.}

2 - You then focus on the people. You need to have the right people for the right positions. How do you hire these people? My recommendation is to look to Barry Shamis for the complete hiring process to succeed. You start with defining the way each will perform and then find the people who fit that set of criteria. The proper bench will make navigating the journey easier. More info on Barry's method can be found at

3 - You develop the work environment. This includes the attitude, the tools, the rules, roles, and responsibilities both defined and well understood by all. Bottom line: respect for the individual. Create an atmosphere that shows consistently, that you are willing to do what is necessary to help the Team in the quest for the goal. Be fair. Be respectful. There are a number of folks that one can refer to for assistance in this area. I would go back to Abraham Maslow for the basics on the Hierarchy of Needs. (If anyone needs a refresher on this, you can check out To Kirk Weisler for creating that respectful culture. And I can’t forget Stephen Covey in this area. I had the pleasure to meet him a number of years ago.

4 - Then you celebrate each success on the journey. This celebration should reinforce all the goodness of the vision, the mission, the respect, the Team. Constant reinforcement, especially positive reinforcement will take you a long way. The ball park, and the dugout is an apt place for a series of high-fives after a good play. Make one like that for your work environment. The reinforcement should help to focus on the goal. Make sure that you provide recognition to those part time players who come off the bench into a clutch situation and do what they need to do, what they were brought in for, what they are skilled at. They are as important to the Team as the regular everyday player. All have important contributions. No one should be considered less than another. Mutual respect. On going success!

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