Are you ready for the next Season?

When most people think about baseball, the first thing that comes to mind is the World Series.  This event occurs in the late October-early November timeframe for professional baseball and in mid to late June for collegiate baseball. While the World Series is certainly a wonderful event, no one gets there without preparation and planning, lots of preparation and planning, and this starts many, many months before the Series.  What needs to happen for your team to get to the pinnacle of your business?  Let’s spend a few minutes today taking a 30,000 foot view at preparing for your future, or your next season in the baseball vernacular.

In all honesty, the new season begins each year the day after the old season has commenced.  After the last out is made each team takes a hard look at the personnel on board, position by position, and determines whether any strategic changes need to be made prior to the next season.  Do you need more hitting, better defense, greater pitching depth and/or more speed?  All of these questions need to be answered.

When one season finishes in your business you need to do the same type of review.  This may take place in a strategic planning session where you circle the key leaders in a room and look at your talent, position by position, to see if you are positioned to make a deeper run in your particular business in the next 2-3 year period.  This session may involve planning for growth, new product or service introduction, international expansion or even retrenchment.  The strategic direction will play a great part in determining just which players you will need when opening day comes along at the outset of the new season.

Not only will you need to look at your talent, but you will also need review who will stay and who will go.  Some of those roles that need “upgrading” will be developed from within from your own resources, the “farm team” in baseball vernacular.  Others may come from the “free agent” market and may be found using internal or external resources.  Once you have reviewed who will be in the lineup, practice can begin.

Baseball has Spring Training to help the team form, build and grow.  In business there is little time for spring training and most of the new players will have to integrate and collaborate more quickly than on the field of dreams.  Just like on the field, teams will need to practice on the fundamentals and also review key situations that may/will occur as the business cycle heats up.  One of the key aspects in developing your team is exposing these key players to experiences that will harden and prepare them for the real thing when it occurs.  Baseball allows for this in practice, but in the business world you have to throw some of your key talent into these situations so that they feel and experience what each of these engagements really feels like.  After the situation ends it is also always good to debrief or conduct a post-mortem to see what was retained or learned.

Success doesn’t just happen.  Getting to the pinnacle of your business world involves finding the right talent, putting key players in the right roles, giving each player/team the right set of experiences and then allowing them to do what they do best in any given situation.

When it all comes together, there is magic, just like when a team wins the World Series.  Not only is there a great feeling for the team, but the fans/stockholders also have a feeling of pride and accomplishment.

So today we will witness the first pitch for the college baseball season across America.  I will personally be at Hawkins Field on the campus of Vanderbilt University watching the Dores play.  I know they have practiced hard.  We will see how this translates to game situations.

The same will be said about your team.  If you practice hard, review your successes and failures and then implement the right tactics, you will be headed in the right direction, and potentially to the World Series.