7 business lessons from the 2015 World Series

I have loved sports all of my life and I love to watch major league sports especially at the culmination of the season.  This year’s World Series was no exception.

Sports may be a metaphor for life – and for business.  Remember the Aaron Rodgers commercial in the school classroom when several professional people were being introduced to the class.  Aaron said “I play football” and a student responded, “That’s not a job.”  Well it is a job for the hard working players; and in the celebratory days after Kansas City won the World Series, I found it interesting to reflect on how this winning season took place.

The answer to how the Royals became world champions carries the metaphorical prescription for success for small businesses, Business as Mission companies included.

  1. They have the resolve to never give up. “This is the kind of team Dayton Moore put together,’’ Lorenzo Cain said. “He put together guys who never give up, never quit…”
  2. There is a solid work ethic.  Again player Cain said. “We always play hard.”
  3. Preparation is vital.  “I went to bed almost every night thinking about this moment, and being ready for my brothers and my team and my family,” said utility player, Christian Colon.  “… I was prepared for it.’’
  4. They learned how to manage failure and patiently take the necessary time for success.  It was a long, painstaking process that included seven consecutive losing seasons under the watch of General Manager Dayton Moore – until the Royals turned the corner in 2013.
  5. They accomplished more with less.  The Royals are a small market team and they had limited resources.  Fifteen of the 30 major league teams had higher payrolls than the Royals.
  6. Team character and harmony was very evident.  “You want to have guys who have the character traits to be great teammates,’’ said Moore, “If you focus solely on yourself, it’s really going to beat you up. So you have to be a great teammate, pull for your teammates and try to do something every single day to help your team win.’’ Edinson Volquez is among the Royals who points to the team’s harmony as one of the reasons for its success, especially in dire situations, and evidence of that esprit de corps can be found in Cain’s moving reaction to Colon’s heroics.
  7. Humility at the top.  General Manager Moore passed along credit for the Royals’ first championship in 30 years to the players, the coaching staff and the scouting folks…at no point did he mention his role in assembling a resilient team that pulled off an unprecedented eight comeback wins this postseason, but the Royals players know better.

So for small businesses (the Royals are big business in one sense but small in another) it may take leadership humility, patience with failure, character and harmony on the team, willingness to be make do with few resources especially at the start, solid preparation, hard work and a determination to “never give up”.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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